They may be bitter rivals in the sales charts but American giants Ford and General Motors (better known around these parts as Opel) are joining forces to develop a series of next-generation gearboxes with nine and ten-speed versions. If that sounds like a seriously confusing gearbox, don’t worry; it’s all being designed to save you money on your fuel and tax budgets.
The new transmissions, to be built in both front- and rear-wheel-drive variants, will improve vehicle performance and increase fuel economy.
The collaboration enables both automakers to design, develop, engineer, test, validate and deliver these new transmissions for their vehicles faster and at lower cost than if each company worked independently.
“Engineering teams from GM and Ford have already started initial design work on these new transmissions,” said Jim Lanzon, GM vice president of global transmission engineering. “We expect these new transmissions to raise the standard of technology, performance and quality for our customers while helping drive fuel economy improvements into both companies’ future product portfolios.”
This new agreement marks the third time in the past decade that GM and Ford have collaborated on transmissions. These collaborative efforts have enabled both companies together to deliver more than eight million durable, high-quality six-speed front-wheel-drive transmissions to customers around the globe.
Ford installs these six-speed transmissions in some of America’s favorite vehicles, such as the Ford Fusion family sedan, the Ford Edge crossover and Ford Escape and Explorer SUVs, while GM installs them into a variety of high-volume, award-winning products, such as the Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Traverse, Chevrolet Equinox and Chevrolet Cruze.
That original collaboration served as a template for the new one. As before, each company will manufacture its own transmissions in its own plants with many common components.
“The goal is to keep hardware identical in the Ford and GM transmissions. This will maximize parts commonality and give both companies economy of scale,” said Craig Renneker, Ford’s chief engineer for transmission and driveline component and pre-program engineering. “However, we will each use our own control software to ensure that each transmission is carefully matched to the individual brand-specific vehicle DNA for each company.”
“With the jointly developed six-speed automatics we have in production today, we’ve already proven that Ford and GM transmission engineers work extremely well together,” said Joe Bakaj, Ford vice president of powertrain engineering. “Our front-wheel-drive transmissions have exceeded expectations and there is every reason to believe we will have the same success with these all-new transmissions.”
“This agreement provides tremendous benefits for both companies and it will pay big dividends for our customers and shareholders,” added Lanzon. “By jointly sharing the development of these two new families of transmissions, both GM and Ford will be able to more efficiently use our respective manpower resources to develop additional future advanced transmissions and bring them to market faster than if we worked alone.”