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Ford Motor Company, GM to collaborate on new transmissions

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(Read caption) The Ford Motor Company logo shines on the grille of a 2006 Ford Escape outside the showroom of a Ford dealership in the south Denver suburb of Littleton, Colo.

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Ford and General Motors will jointly develop new nine- and ten-speed automatic transmissions, marking the third time this decade that the two auto giants have collaborated on such a project.

Previous developments included six- and eight-speed automatics used across dozens of vehicles from Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] and General Motors Company [NYSE:GM].

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And as with these previous units, each automaker will manufacture its own version of the new transmission designs.

They will be developed for a wide variety of applications including cars, crossovers, SUVs and trucks, and versions for both front-wheel and rear-wheel drive configurations are planned. 

Few details about the designs are known, but both automakers suggest the transmissions will improve performance while at the same time reduce fuel consumption. They also stress that each transmission will feature its own control software to ensure it is carefully matched to the individual brand-specific vehicle DNA for whichever vehicle it is applied to. This means the same transmission will have a different feel in a Chevrolet as compared to in a Cadillac.

The addition of more gears at the top end can help improve highway numbers, while at the other end of the spectrum lower gears should improve performance during towing or slow, off-road driving. Smaller ratio steps between each of the gears can also translate to improved response during brisk driving.

While Ford and GM start work on these new transmissions, Chrysler will be launching later this year a new nine-speed automatic sourced from Germany’s ZF. Theunit has also been confirmed for Land Rover’s Range Rover Evoque.

Further details including specification and launch dates  will be released at a later date.