Ford and General Motors have entered into an agreement to co-develop advanced 9-speed and 10-speed automatic transmissions that will improve both performance and economy of their future vehicles. The new automatics, which are currently in their initial design and engineering stages, will be used on both front-drive and rear-drive applications in the coming years. According to corporate representatives, the collaborative efforts will help reduce costs and trim the time interval to first production applications.

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"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." Each firm also will manufacture the new transmissions in separate facilities.

This latest collaborative effort marks the third time the two largest U.S. automakers have worked together on transmission development during the past decade. The previous programs have led to the co-development of the current strain of Ford 6F and GM 6T70 6-speed automatics used in various front-drive applications. Over 8 million of these transmissions can be found in the Ford Fusion, Edge, Escape and Explorer as well as the Chevrolet Cruze, Malibu, Equinox and Traverse.

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"With the jointly developed 6-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."

Given the current state of the program, it's likely the first of these new Ford/GM autoshifters won't come on-line for at least two to three more years. The first automakers to enter this uncharted transmission territory will be the Chrysler Group and Jaguar Land Rover, both having announced plans to fit new ZF-designed 9-speed automatics to a number of their vehicles starting this fall. The new 2014 Jeep Cherokee and Dodge Dart will introduce it on the Chrysler side, while the 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque is slated to do the honors for JLR.


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