Ford Rejects GM's 9-Speed Slushbox Because It Wasn't Good Enough

Industry News

It boiled down to a few simple factors.

Finding ways to save money is vital these days in the auto industry. If two automakers just so happen to share some common goals, namely in parts and technology, why not jointly develop something and save a ton of money. Makes sense, right? Of course. Ford and General Motors, for example, agreed five years ago to an arrangement where the former would share its new 10-speed automatic transmission, and GM, in return, would offer Ford its 9-speed automatic. The 10-speed is now being used in the Mustang and F-150.

But when Ford received GM’s transmission, according to Automotive News, it realized it wasn’t what was expected. Instead of using that 9-speed for vehicles such as the Edge, Transit Connect, and Lincoln Nautilus, Ford has decided to go with a “series of new eight-speed transmissions” for those models. The first of those gearboxes is actually based off the 9-speed, only with one gear less. The second, for the Edge ST, is actually an evolved 6-speed automatic first developed, coincidentally, with GM back in 2002. The third 8-speed will be used specifically for smaller vehicles with less torque. So what was wrong with GM’s new 9-speed in the first place?

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It didn’t offer enough of a fuel economy improvement to justify additional cost and the added weight of an extra gear. The latest Chevrolet Malibu, for example, has this 9-speed, but its highway fuel economy is only 1 mpg better than the previous gen Malibu, which had an 8-speed. GM claims the new, though rejected by Ford, transmission offers a better driving experience compared to the old 8-speed. Ford, however, is looking at this as a matter of weight vs. cost vs. efficiency. In this case, the numbers simply didn’t add up.