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Ford, GM shift gear on automatics
Car-making giants Ford and GM confirm collaboration on 9, 10-speed transmissions
15 Apr 2013
By BARRY PARK
FORD and rival US car-making giant General Motors have confirmed a joint venture to build the next generation of automatic transmissions.
The companies overnight released a joint press release saying they would start to collaborate an “all-new generation of advanced-technology nine- and 10-speed automatics for cars, crossovers, SUVs and trucks”.
According to the release, the transmissions will be shaped for front- and rear-drive vehicles, with the aim of improving performance and increasing 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,” the statement said.
Jim Lanzon, GM’s vice-president of global transmission engineering, said work had already started on the transmissions.
“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,” he said.
The transmissions are expected to tie in with an upcoming range of smaller, more fuel-efficient turbocharged engines ranging in size from 1.0-litre three-cylinder versions up to 1.5-litre four-cylinder models.
On the performance side of things, GM has announced plans for a twin-turbo 3.6-litre V6 that could also benefit from a gearbox that is able to keep the engine within its power and fuel-efficiency bands, depending on demand.
Several car-makers already have eight-speed automatics on the market, including Chrysler, BMW and Land Rover.
Volkswagen’s Amarok work ute also has an eight-speed self-shifter under the bonnet.
At the recent Geneva Motor show, Land Rover unveiled an updated Range Rover Evoque that will become Australia’s first car fitted with a nine-speed automatic, when it goes on sale next year.
Holden’s soon-to-be-released VF Commodore large car, featuring significant revisions to the interior and exterior, is believed to have carried over its six-speed automatic transmission, although with significant work to improve its shift quality.
Ford and GM previously teamed up, more than a decade ago, to produce a six-speed transmissions for front-drive vehicles using common internals but independently developed control electronics.
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