A Ford transmission in a GM car? Or vice versa?

Ford and GM are reportedly working together on new nine- and 10-speed automatics

Published: October 1, 2012, 1:00 PM

A Ford transmission in a GM car? Or vice versa? Sacrilege!

At least that used to be the case. Now, not so much.

Increasingly, automakers are working together on the development and production of components and systems that aren't obvious brand differentiators to consumers.

Now, according to the industry news magazine, Automotive News, Ford and General Motors are working together on the design and development of nine and 10-speed transmissions.

But it's not an unprecedented alliance. In fact, the two began working together on a family of six-speed front-wheel-drive automatics back in 2002.

The results of that collaboration have since been used in millions of vehicles produced by both companies, according to AN.

The driving force behind their current cooperative effort is, of course, the need of all automakers to reduce fuel consumption. As well as to reduce costs.

Adoption of multi-speed transmissions addresses the first issue and working together addresses the second.

GM is leading the design of a nine-speed, front-wheel-drive transmission according to AN, while Ford is taking the lead on a 10-speed for rear-wheel-drive vehicles, including pickups trucks.

Both transmissions would potentially be used across both automakers' model ranges. Differentiation in driving feel can be established via the computer controls used to integrate various engines with the transmissions.

The programs are still at an early stage and production is not expected to begin before 2015.

Currently, Mercedes-Benz offers a seven-speed transmission, Audi, BMW, Chrysler and Lexus have eight-speeds, Chrysler has a nine-speed in the works, and Hyundai is working on a 10-speed.