Two fiercely competitive automakers deciding to join forces at the most critical stage of developing new products – research and development – seems unlikely. But, that’s exactly what Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. are doing. The two announced a plan to jointly develop next generation of 9- and 10-speed automatic transmissions for cars, crossovers, SUVs and trucks.
The catalyst behind the agreement is a desire to cut down expenses and enable the two companies to get advanced technology to the market faster.
“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,” Jim Lanzon, GM vice president of global transmission engineering, said in a statement.
It’s not the first time the companies are working together, as they’ve partnered up twice before on transmissions. More than eight million vehicles have incorporated 6-speed front-wheel drive transmissions, including Ford Fusion, Ford Edge crossover and the Ford Escape and Explorer SUVs. GM vehicles with the transmissions include some of its flagship vehicles such as the Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Traverse, Chevrolet Equinox and Chevrolet Cruze.
Under the new partnership – which is already under way – each company will assemble its own transmissions in its own factories with common parts.
“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, Transmission & Driveline Component & 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.”
Technical details for the new General Motors and Ford transmissions will be released by each company closer to launch.
Photo Credit: Ford