Ford, GM Co-Developing Nine and Ten-Speed Automatic Transmissions

Ford and General Motors are teaming up to develop nine- and ten-speed automatic transmissions that should launch in time for the 2017 model year.

"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," the companies said in a joint release.

The nine-speed will mate with transverse (front-wheel-drive) engines and the ten-speed will serve longitudinal (rear-wheel-drive) applications. Both will be torque converter automatics.

This isn't the first time GM and Ford have worked together on transmissions. A decade ago, they jointly developed a six-speed automatic, shown above. It went into production in 2006 and presently can be found in products like the Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Traverse. A smaller version serves in vehicles like the Chevy Cruze.

The new partnership is much broader. Although neither company will comment on specific applications, the transmissions will work in everything from small cars to crossovers and large trucks.

GM and Ford have fallen behind in the long-running race to offer the most gear ratios. At GM, such development was delayed by the 2009 bankruptcy. Ford, meanwhile, focused on dual-clutch automatics, which achieve good fuel economy but haven't been well-received by some American buyers. Multiple automakers presently offer eight-speed transmissions. Chrysler and supplier ZF have announced plans to build nine-speeds, and Hyundai is reportedly working on a 10-speed.

Ford and GM will develop software and manufacture the transmissions independently. GM will also continue work on its own eight-speed automatic for rear-wheel-drive cars, which will debut before the ten-speed arrives. In the nearer term, it is licensing an eight-speed auto from Aisin for the 2014 Cadillac CTS.

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