Ford won’t use GM’s 9 speed automatic transmission due to cost, efficiency snags

Article by Christian A., on April 27, 2018

Several years ago, on April 15, 2013, Ford and General Motors signed an agreement to jointly use automatic transmissions that both automakers had developed. This was developed mainly for models like the F-150 and the Mustang. For the former, their part of the deal was to share its own 10 speed gearbox to rear wheel drive cars with GM, and in return, they will be able to use the 9 speed gearbox which they can use in front wheel drive crossovers, for a smoother and more efficient drive.

The gearbox seen in this photo, the Hydra-Matic 9T50, which was originally introduced in Chevy models with the 2017 Malibu, 2017 Cruze Diesel and the 2018 Equinox will not find its way inside a Ford model. Rather, the automaker opted to use an eight speed box for models like the Edge and the MKX that replaces the Lincoln Nautilus.

So what made them change their mind? Well, Ford believes that GM’s transmission is not good enough to handle the extra weight that comes from the new gear. That is not all, because it also argues that it does not justify the increased cost required for it to adapt to the Ford models. AutoPacific Inc. analyst, Dave Sullivan, even joked that if he was offered a transmission that did not require much work, outside of tuning it for a specific vehicle, he would take it and run.

Now, the Ford gearbox is just part of a three series eight speed transmission. One of those is based on GM’s nine speed, dropping one of the gears, and another is based on a six speed that has been co-developed with GM that will be used on models such as the Nautilus with a V6 engine that was built with GM as part of a 2002 tie up, as well as the Edge ST. There is also a smaller gearbox that is used for engines that generate a lower amount of torque.

Moreover, the report mentioned that the decision to use an eight speed instead of a nine speed, which was made by Ford was actually decided on before General Motors began implementing it on the production cars that are mentioned above. Final fuel economy numbers are not available at the moment of writing for the models that will be using Ford’s eight speed.

The company is quite confident that they will be able to match the efficiency of GM’s nine speed. What we do know is that the Transit Connect and Wagon models, both equipped with a 1.5 liter EcoBlue engine, can return 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Soon, we should be able to get final fuel economy numbers from the automaker.

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