Ford Motor Co. and General Motors plan to jointly develop what they say is an “all-new generation” of nine- and 10-speed automatic transmissions for cars, crossovers, SUVs and trucks.

The new transmissions – to be built in both front- and rear-wheel-drive variants – will improve vehicle performance and increase fuel economy, noted Jim Lanzon, VP- global transmission engineering for GM, adding that collaboration enables both Ford and GM to design, develop, engineer, test, validate and deliver these new products faster and at lower cost versus working independently of each other.

“Engineering teams from GM and Ford have already started initial design work on these new transmissions,” Lanzon pointed out. “We expect these new transmissions to raise the standard of technology, performance and quality for our customers while helping drive fuel economy improvements into both companies’ future product portfolios.”

This is actually the third time in the last 10 years that Ford and GM collaborated on transmissions, both automakers noted, with the most successful result of such joint work to date a six-speed automatic for front-wheel drive vehicles used in Ford’s Fusion family sedan, Edge crossover, Escape and Explorer SUVs, with GM installing that same six-speed model in its Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Traverse, Chevrolet Equinox and Chevrolet Cruze.

Craig Renneker, Ford’s chief engineer for transmission and driveline component and pre-program engineering, noted that each company manufactures its own transmissions resulting from the joint design and research effort – a pattern he said will hold true for the new nine- and 10-speed models the OEMs are now working on.

“The goal is to keep hardware identical in the Ford and GM transmissions [to] maximize parts commonality and give both companies economy of scale,” he explained. “However, we will each use our own control software to ensure that each transmission is carefully matched to the individual brand-specific vehicle ‘DNA’ for each company.”

“By jointly sharing the development of these two new families of transmissions, both GM and Ford will be able to more efficiently use our respective manpower resources to develop additional future advanced transmissions and bring them to market faster than if we worked alone,” GM’s Lanzon added.