For whatever reason, GM and Ford worked on a 10-speed automatic transmission together. With GM being the parent company of Chevy, and Chevy and Ford being bitter rivals in the truck and muscle car market, this is not only hard to believe — but also slightly confusing. Why would these two companies decide to put their heads together for a reason other than butting is beyond me. What is clear though, is that this transmission is going to provide some major benefits to the models it equips.
With an arguably unlikely partnership, I’m not surprised if you have some questions regarding this transmission produced by two rival companies. Thankfully, I have some information about it. On a side note, it seems that Ford took the engineering lead in these efforts.
Some Information on the New 10-Speed Transmission
Officially dubbed the 10R80, the point isn’t to have a wide spread of ratios between the first and tenth gear. While this might sound like I’m pulling your leg, the fact is at least five other conventional automatics — including a few eight-speeds — have a wider gear spread. Why? Because according to testing done by Ford, there is no benefit to having a span wider than 7.4, which is why GM and Ford kept the gear spread at 7.384, and didn’t go overboard like the gearbox used by Porsche in their Panamera, with a spread of 10.119.
What they did want to focus on is the individual gear spacing. Since it doesn’t have a particularly wide overall ratio spread, that obviously means the individual spacing is going to be fairly close. Considering the average RPM drop during a shift is only 20-percent, I’d say it is. For comparison purposes, that Porsche Panamera has a 32-percent drop during a gear shift.
So, what benefit does this provide? In a nutshell, the tight ratios keep the engine closer to peak power during full-throttle acceleration. Therefore, you aren’t losing out on as much power as some of the other rivals with a wider spread/gear ratio during shifts.
It’s also going to help with a smoother operation when towing a trailer, which is something that both Ford and GM (Chevy) trucks will appreciate. The new transmission features a torque capacity of 650 lb.-ft.
What Models Will it Equip?
With a 10-speed automatic, rear-drive transmission like this, it’s no doubt a precursor to a family of 10-speed automatics in the future. Since the less-bulky RWD models from GM and Ford will benefit from a smaller and lighter transmission style.
It makes sense to see this transmission on the F-150 thanks to the optimized performance it provides when towing. But, since the transmission doesn’t lose nearly as much power thanks to the tighter gear ratios, it fits perfectly on the 2017 Camaro ZL1 as well. Which could be a major factor why it beat its predecessor’s Nurburgring track time by almost 20 seconds.
Eventually, I’m sure Chevy, Ford, and GM will be switching over to this 10-speed (or a variation of) with all of their vehicles simply because the tighter gear ratios provide immense, well-rounded benefits.