Ford Has No Interest In Using GM’s Nine-Speed Auto Gearbox

Ford says it has no interest in using the new nine-speed automatic transmission developed by General Motors.

Five years ago, Ford and GM agreed to co-develop a new ten-speed gearbox for rear-wheel drive vehicles. The partnership was also supposed to see GM supply Ford with a nine-speed for front-wheel drive vehicles that provided smoother shifts and was more efficient than what it used at the time.

However, Automotive News has learned that Ford isn’t all that impressed with GM’s nine-speed and instead believes it is better off using its own eight-speed. As a result, this gearbox is now used by the likes of the Ford Edge, Ford Transit Connect, and Lincoln Nautilus.

More gears don’t necessarily mean the gearbox is better

According to Ford, GM’s nine-speed simply doesn’t offer enough of a fuel efficiency improvement to be used.

“The small efficiency benefit did not justify the added weight and cost of an extra clutch and gear,” Ford spokesman Mike Levine confirmed.

With the available nine-speed, the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu delivers just 1 mpg more during highway driving than the previous generation model with its eight-speed. The latest Buick Envision also offers just a single mpg better economy on the highway than the old six-speed.

“Typically, if anyone gave me a transmission that didn’t require much work, outside of tuning it for a specific vehicle, I would take it and run,” AutoPacific analyst Dave Sullivan said.

“It’s a lot of design work after the fact to come up with their own flavor. It shows there might be some different schools of thought in terms of transmission efficiency.”

  • Liam Paul

    less money GM has to spend if they dont need to give ford 9 speeds in this deal to work together on a 10 speed.

  • eb110americana

    Assuming the costs aren’t insurmountable, automakers go to great lengths for 0.1 MPG, so 1 MPG is nothing to sneeze at. It sounds like there may have been an internal conflict, and Ford does not want to do the engineering or programming to fit the new 9-speed. It may also have to do with why the 10-speed seems to be in many Fords, but only the top versions of certain GM models.

    • Rocket

      I see no evidence of conflict. It sounds like Ford gained at least as much improvement with their own 8-speed. And if it weighs less than the 9-speed, all the better. We’ll know soon enough as Ford’s 8-speed will be debuting shortly.

      • Benjamin B.

        I believe the 8-speed is based on the ZF transaxle, but I’m not certain.

        • Rocket

          It’s unrelated. Ford doesn’t use ZF gearboxes in longitudinal or transverse applications.

      • Benjamin B.

        It is already available in select Ford and Lincoln vehicles.

  • Rocket

    It’s been reported previously that Ford’s 8-speed was just the GM developed 9-speed less a gear. This implies they’re completely unrelated. Automotive News clarifies things a bit better …

    “Ford didn’t get quite the result it anticipated from the arrangement, signed five years ago this month. It has elected not to use GM’s nine-speed transmission out of the box, opting instead for a series of new eight-speed transmissions on vehicles such as the Ford Edge, Ford Transit Connect and Lincoln Nautilus.

    The first of those is based off the nine-speed, dropping one of the gears. The second eight-speed, for higher-performance vehicles such as the upcoming Edge ST and V-6 version of the Nautilus, adapts a six-speed that was co-developed with GM as part of a 2002 tie-up. A third eight-speed is expected for smaller, lower-torque vehicles.”

    That Ford chose to modify the 6-speed for the Edge ST and Nautilus could also indicate that the new gearbox can’t handle high-torque applications.

    • Benjamin B.

      new Edge ST uses an 8-speed as well… sounds like it’s slightly different though

  • kachuks

    They might want to consider using them instead of the Powershift.

  • Six_Tymes

    8, 9, 10. what I dont get is, the 8 spd GM was suppose to be the best auto yet, which can be found in the vette. But why then did they even bother spending R&D together making a 9 and 10? is there really big differences in performance and energy savings? cant find facts online about it

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