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.”