Ford Motor Company and General Motors Corp., the world’s two largest automakers, today announced they have signed an agreement to develop a high-volume, front-wheel-drive, 6-speed automatic transmission with improved fuel economy.
The two companies announced a preliminary agreement in October 2002 to bring this new transmission to market, and signed a definitive agreement on Feb. 7, 2003.
The new 6-speed transmission is expected to offer approximately a 4 percent improvement in fuel economy over traditional 4-speed automatic transmissions available in today’s front-wheel-drive cars.
Under the definitive agreement signed last week, Ford and GM agreed to:
Share common design, engineering and testing of the new transmission;
Jointly work with suppliers to develop and purchase components;
Assemble their own transmissions at their respective manufacturing plants.
The new transmission will be available beginning in mid-to-late decade on front-wheel-drive cars and sport-utility vehicles.
“This world-class 6-speed transmission has a simple but elegant design that offers the customer enhanced performance at a very competitive cost,” said Tom Stephens, GM Powertrain group vice president. “In addition, this agreement showcases the benefits of collaborating with other companies to help reduce development costs for a major powertrain component.”
“This agreement has many potential benefits for both companies, our shareholders and our customers,” said Dave Szczupak, vice president, Ford Powertrain Operations. “New powertrains require high development costs, and the higher volumes realized through this deal will enable us to reduce costs by realizing economies of scale. At the same time, this new transmission will help us improve overall vehicle fuel economy.”
Under the arrangement, each company is responsible for integrating the transmission into its own vehicles. Only the base transmission design will be common. Each company will have powertrains that are distinct in feel and performance since the transmissions will be mated to different engines, and the respective vehicle programs will have unique performance dynamics and calibration.
The design being pursued is a new transmission architecture with a wider gear ratio span to improve fuel economy. Featuring a compact design, the new 6-speed also will be capable of higher torque capacity when compared to most existing front-wheel-drive transmissions such as 4-speed automatics.
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