No, hell has not frozen over, and it's not yet December 21, 2012. But Ford and General Motors are reportedly about to begin joint development on new nine and 10-speed automatic transmissions. Automotive News is reporting the two companies are in discussions, and have signed a memorandum of understanding on the transmission joint venture. Both companies will reportedly realize significant cost savings on the joint development compared to a completely in-house development.
According to the report, GM will take the lead in the development of nine-speed automatics for use in front-drive and transverse applications, while Ford will head up development on the 10-speed automatic designed for use in rear-drive applications such as performance and luxury cars, trucks and SUVs.
This is not the first time the two companies have collaborated on development of transmissions, as the two companies joined forces in 2002 to develop six-speed automatic transmissions for front-wheel drive vehicles. Those transmissions ultimately came to market branded as the Ford 6F and GM 6T70 automatic transmissions used in such high-volume models as the Ford Fusion and Escape, and Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu. There was also speculation going back to 2008 that the two companies were looking at joint powertrain development.
Prior to this announcement, both companies were reportedly at work on in-house eight-speed automatic transmissions for use in rear-drive vehicles. GM's eight-speed may make it to production in limited volumes in the new Cadillac CTS, but Ford's home-grown eight-speed program has reportedly been scrapped in favor of this new proposed joint-venture.
Source: Automotive News (subscription Required)