Tag Archive | "gearbox"

Ford And GM Collaborate On Gearboxes.


Across the pond in the USA – Michigan to be precise – the Ford Motor Company and General Motors have been putting their corporate heads together to come up with a deal to develop a new generation of automatic gearboxes for cars, SUV’s and commercial vehicles. The interesting thing is that these transmissions will have nine or ten ratios and there will be variants for both front and rear-wheel drive. The thinking is that these gearboxes will enhance the search for continuing improvement in both performance and economy in the vehicles of the not too distant future.

The design and engineering work is already underway and builds on the previous collaborations by these automotive giants. This will be the third time in the last ten years that the two companies have worked together on transmissions, most recently on a shared six-speed FWD (pictured) which is found in many of the popular products from both manufacturers. Each company will assemble their own but will use shared components.

This cooperation will help Ford and GM to maximise efficiencies and develop economies of scale – a concept that is increasingly occurring in the motor industry as the new ideas go global. This benefits customers, not only in terms of economy but also in value as sharing technology and parts in this way helps to keep prices competitive and shareholders happy.

The question is – do we need ten speed gearboxes? How many ratios are effective within the limited rev range of the average engine before they all start getting in each others way? Drivers with experience of seven speeds – the VW DSG ’box for example – are finding that, around town at least, they can be a bit irritating as they shift about in auto mode.

Certainly in the wide open spaces and long, straight, empty highways of America a ten-speed might make sense but in the UK and much of Europe we don’t have that luxury. Road and traffic conditions can change dramatically in the space of a few miles on this crowded island and a gearbox that is perpetually hunting around for just the right ratio might begin to grate.

However, few technical details and applications have been revealed to date. Both Ford and General Motors have said that more information will be forthcoming nearer launch time, so we’ll all have to wait and see just how good these transmissions are. Certainly there is no doubt that many of the technological advances made to new cars in recent years have benefited motorists greatly, but is there a limit to how far these advances can go?

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