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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Ford to GM: We're Going to Pass On the 9-Speed Automatic

      Going to stick with eight-speed on certain models for the time being

    In April of 2013, Ford and General Motors announced they would be working together on developing new nine and ten-speed automatic transmissions. The nine-speed automatic would be for front-wheel drive models, while rear-drive models got the ten-speed. Already, a number of Ford and GM vehicles are using the ten-speed. But GM will be the only one using the nine-speed.

    Automotive News reports that Ford is electing to use a new series of eight-speed automatic transmission on their vehicles. The company said the new nine-speed didn't provide enough of an improvement in fuel economy to justify the added cost and weight. According to a source, Ford made this decision before GM began to use this transmission on their production models.

    "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. 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," said Dave Sullivan, an analyst with AutoPacific Inc.

    While GM claims the nine-speed brings “smoother shifts” and a better driving experience, it hasn't brought any real gains to fuel economy. The 2017 Chevrolet Malibu 2.0T only saw an increase of one mpg on the highway when compared to the 2016 model with a six-speed automatic (33 vs. 32). The 2019 Buick Envision 2.0T saw its highway fuel economy drop by one when equipped with the nine-speed auto (25 vs. 26).

    It should be noted that one of the eight-speed transmissions Ford is using is based on the new nine-speed, minus a gear.

    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)

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    It should be noted that one of the eight-speed transmissions Ford is using is based on the new nine-speed, minus a gear.

    Wait what? So they are going to use the transmission, but just take out the extra gear?  I doubt it would be 1st or 9th as the idea is to have as wide a ratio spread as possible, so is it 2nd or 7th or what?

    But it also means that there needs to be significant design changes made, alterations to production line, lots of parts changes... I don't understand how bringing up a whole new line saves money verse just using the transmission that is already in production and would get vast economies of scale by being shared between the two.  There's gotta be more to it than what we're being told because it just doesn't make business sense. 

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    This is very weird and I feel there is more to this story than ford saying they can do it with their own 8sp over using the 9sp tranny!

    https://jalopnik.com/why-ford-isn-t-using-gm-s-nine-speed-automatic-transmis-1825465785

    https://www.motor1.com/news/239934/ford-refuses-use-gm-automatic-transmission/

    Plenty of arm chair thoughts on this are out there.

    @Drew Dowdell Why do you think Ford is really passing on using the 9sp FWD tranny? 

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    36 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    This is very weird and I feel there is more to this story than ford saying they can do it with their own 8sp over using the 9sp tranny!

    https://jalopnik.com/why-ford-isn-t-using-gm-s-nine-speed-automatic-transmis-1825465785

    https://www.motor1.com/news/239934/ford-refuses-use-gm-automatic-transmission/

    Plenty of arm chair thoughts on this are out there.

    @Drew Dowdell Why do you think Ford is really passing on using the 9sp FWD tranny? 

    Anything I said would be pure speculation on my part. Reading the Jalop article it seems like they're just deleting 9th gear. That does not sound unreasonable if they leave the rest of the transmission alone. If that is the case, then they are using the transmission, just a slightly scaled back version.  GM hasn't had the controversy with their 9-speed like Land Rover / FCA / Acura did with the one those three companies used.  In those, 9th gear was rarely ever used and thus didn't produce significant fuel economy gains. In FCA vehicles, the transmission performs better with a V6 than a 4-cylinder.  All of Ford's car lineup outside of Mustang is going to be only 4-cylinder very soon. So in that regard, Ford's argument is sound. 

    I have not had enough long term experience with GM's 9-speed to be able to note how it behaves. I wouldn't be surprised if it is similar but smoother. 

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    On 4/23/2018 at 11:39 AM, Drew Dowdell said:

    Wait what? So they are going to use the transmission, but just take out the extra gear?  I doubt it would be 1st or 9th as the idea is to have as wide a ratio spread as possible, so is it 2nd or 7th or what?

    But it also means that there needs to be significant design changes made, alterations to production line, lots of parts changes... I don't understand how bringing up a whole new line saves money verse just using the transmission that is already in production and would get vast economies of scale by being shared between the two.  There's gotta be more to it than what we're being told because it just doesn't make business sense. 

    Ford is doing some strange things lately it seems...

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    I'm curious how they 'delete' the gear...physically not including it in the assembly (which implies some new parts and differences in assembly from the 9spd), or skipping it with the software?  

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    5 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    I'm curious how they 'delete' the gear...physically not including it in the assembly (which implies some new parts and differences in assembly from the 9spd), or skipping it with the software?  

    It sounds like a whole clutch goes away. 

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    can't find where now but read first & higher gears stay as is

    with changes in 2-3-4-5 becoming a [not much] wider 2-3-4

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    8 hours ago, 2b2 said:

    can't find where now but read first & higher gears stay as is

    with changes in 2-3-4-5 becoming a [not much] wider 2-3-4

    That also makes sense.  they'd want the overall spread to remain the same. 

    I think this is evidence that we've hit peak gear ratios in geared transmissions.  The added complexity is no longer worth the gains. 

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