We’ve heard of companies collaborating on efforts to share technology and bring something new to the market, but rarely is this the case when dealing with direct competitors in the exact same market. For more than a decode though, Ford and Chevrolet have been working together or develop new transmissions and the six-speed you find in your vehicle today might have been built more from the other company than the one that has their name on your vehicle. This is certainly a collaboration that has worked well for both companies, but it would easily have Henry Ford and Louis Chevrolet rise up from the grave to set their respective companies straight.
The six-speed automatic transmission has been so popular and has worked so well for both Chevrolet and Ford that the two entered a new programs in 2013 to begin working on two more transmissions for us. These next two are the nine and ten-speed automatic transmission models. The ten-speed is already being used in the F-series trucks and is planned for the Mustang while Chevrolet has it in the Silverado and will also put it into the Camaro ZL1. This ten-speed transmission is meant for the longitudinal engines that offer more space under the hood and the vehicle.
The new nine-speed transmission that’s being developed jointly (yes, Henry and Louis just rolled over again), will be added to the Cruze diesel, the Malibu and the new Equinox. There will be more applications of this engine in the future, but for now the 2017 models of the Cruze and Malibu will be the first we see with this new transmission with the Equinox in 2018. This new transmission will offer better fuel mileage, smoother shifting and a better overall ratio spread which increased from 6.0 in the six-speed to 7.6 in the new nine-speed variation.
Why do the same transmissions feel so different in different models? The reason the same transmission in a Ford feels different in a Chevrolet is due to the software code that achieves the performance characteristics. Each company may use the same transmission but they write their own code and stamp their own name on the transmissions they use. This helps to retain the individual nature of the two companies and the performance of their vehicles, although some of the similar sized models from each of the two may feel very much alike in the performance and power provided.
While you may have not known, or cared, where your transmission came from, the fact that Ford and Chevrolet have collaborated to bring you new gearing that will make a huge difference in the comfort and performance of your vehicle. The only thing that matters to you is the fact that your vehicle will perform the way you want it to on the road and you’ll experience better fuel mileage or higher performance depending upon the gearing of this part of the vehicle. As this collaboration continues to drive stakes in the graves of the founders, the technology developed will continue to benefit our driving enjoyment on the road.