Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. report they have a new joint-development agreement that aims to produce a new series of automatic transmissions for cars, crossovers, SUVs, and trucks. The two automakers said their engineering teams would work together to develop 9- and 10-speed automatic transmissions in front- and rear-wheel drive variants.

In their announcement, Ford and GM said the new transmission would improve vehicle performance and increase fuel economy.

Once the new product has been established and is ready for commercialization, each automaker will manufacture its own transmissions in its own plants, using numerous common components.

“The goal is to keep hardware identical in the Ford and GM transmissions. This will maximize parts commonality and give both companies economy of scale,” stated Ford’s chief engineer Craig Renneker, of the automaker’s Transmission & Driveline Component & Pre-Program Engineering unit. “However, we will each use our own control softwareto ensure that each transmission is carefully matched to the individual brand-specific vehicle DNA for each company.”

Domestic automakers, including Chrysler Corp. as well as Ford and GM, are introducing new transmissions designed with multiple speeds will help to control fuel economy because the narrower gear ranges will give tighter control of engine performance. However, a second consideration is that the greater gear range will improve acceleration, enhancing vehicle performance.