According to reports, GM will be in charge of designing a 9-speed gearbox for front-wheel drive cars while Ford will take the lead in developing a 10-speed transmission for rear-wheel drive cars such as SUVs, performance vehicles and pick-ups.
Cars with a larger number of gear selections enable the engine to operate more efficiently, thus reducing CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. GM and Ford are not alone in the quest for additional gear ratios. Hyundai is already working on a 10-speed automatic transmission that will be used on a range of Hyundai and Kia vehicles in the future, particularly luxury models. It is scheduled to hit the showroom in 2014.
If the collaboration proves to be a success, GM and Ford, the world's second and fifth largest car maker respectively, will be able to enjoy great economy of scale due to the sheer volume of their annual output. According to IHS Automotive powertrain analyst, David Petrovski, GM and Ford benefit from reduced investment risk by working together.
By developing their own gearbox instead of purchasing them from manufacturers such as ZF and paying license fees, a car maker can reduce their cost of production.