By on December 6, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Malibu

You don’t just develop a multi-cog transmission with your longstanding rival and not use it.

With that in mind, General Motors has big short-term plans for the nine-speed automatic it co-developed with Ford Motor Company. Already announced as uplevel equipment in three models, GM plans to spread the nine-speed love to a total of 10 models within a year.

So far, we know that the transmission will appear in the top-shelf 2017 Malibu Premier, replacing an eight-speed unit in that role, as well as the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel and downsized 2018 Equinox.

According to The Detroit News, Chris Meagher, GM’s executive director of transmission and electrification hardware engineering, says the automaker will announce a fourth application “very soon.” By this time next year, 10 models should contain the unit. Fuel economy is top of mind with this transmission, designed to replace GM’s venerable six-speed in most front-wheel-drive applications.

“This product is not aimed at niche vehicles,” said Meagher. “It’s a high-volume plan.”

The nine-speed is compact enough to find its way into a range of vehicles built on the E2XX and D2XX platforms. Featuring a selectable one-way clutch, the unit purportedly maintains torque levels across a broader range while delivering improved gas mileage from its two overdrive gears.

For the 2017 Malibu, the nine-speed adds an extra mile per gallon to the model’s highway fuel consumption figure. In models where it replaces a six-speed unit, expect a larger gas mileage boost.

GM isn’t naming the six remaining models tapped for the nine-speed, but it’s not hard to guess the candidates. Variants of the E2XX platform underpin the 2017 Buick LaCrosse, GMC Acadia and Cadillac XT5, as well as the next-generation Chevrolet Impala, Traverse and Buick Enclave due out next year as 2018 models. The D2XX platform carries the Cruze and Buick Envision.

At the back of GM engineers’ minds, quietly pressing their worry bone, was the non-stop problems experienced with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’s nine-speed unit, which frustrated company execs, reviewers and customers alike. Scott Kline, assistant chief engineer of the transmission program, insists the bugs are worked out.

“This transmission shifts very smoothly, very precisely,” he told The Detroit News.

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33 Comments on “GM Spreads Its Nine-speed Automatic Around, Implies It’s Not Like FCA’s Nine-Speed...”


  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    If GM and Ford took their time with this piece and made sure that it was quality there and not beta testing it buyers then it should be fine. This has to be better than the last time the hooked up. If done correctly and implemented in that many vehicles it could save them a ton of cash overall. I know that Ford will be using it in atleast 8 of its cars in the next few years.

    The only thing I dont understand is the statement of “big shortterm plans”. Are they going to dump it in 4 years? If so why?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      The “last time” was on the just-introduced 10,speed RWD transmission.

      The 6 speed automatic transaxle (FWD) they co-developed before that is a reliable, good performing unit, despite some early teething issues with the GM version. They have been around for a while now, so their long-term reliability is pretty good thus far.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    If the bugs are worked out, where are Ford’s implementations?

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      Likely waiting for things like the next gen Fusion/Focus etc rather than sticking it in an aging and soon to be replaced car.

      Ford/GM also have the 10 speed they worked on together for RWD applications. Ford has already announced that for the F-150 and rumored to be in the 2018 Mustang.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I don’t see why they should wait- PowerShift is awful and the 6AT for the bigger cars is just treading water competitively. Launching them on the current cars/CUVs will breathe new life into aging cars and allow them to work the bugs out before the new generations are released.

        Ha, I was just saying in the thread about Ford’s CUV pivot that they need new transmissions.

        • 0 avatar
          Higheriq

          Obviously Ford has some valid reason for waiting which they are not announcing. Do you suppose they know something about their products that you don’t? Perhaps they’re trying to work out the bugs BEFORE installing them into ANYTHING?

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          you don’t just make significant powertrain changes in the middle of a model year. It’s usually left for a new model program or MCA.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            JimZ – making powertrain changes mid-model has been Ford’s recent pickup strategy. I do agree that in general, yes, big changes tend to be reserved for new models.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            No, ford hasn’t done it in the middle of a MODEL YEAR. And I said “usually” for a reason. Please read.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        it’s more than “announced,” it’s available now:

        http://www.ford.com/trucks/f150/features/#page=Feature26

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          We were able to get 19.5 out of Dad’s 5.0 F-150 4×4 with the 6-speed on 65 mph highways all the way to the cabin and back for Thanksgiving. With a 9-speed, I wonder if it could almost get mid-20s.

          • 0 avatar
            Higheriq

            Try 20. The 3.5EB with the 10-speed gets 1mpg better. The 10-speed was installed in the 3.5EB F-150 first mainly to improve drivability, towing, and refinement. 1mpg is just gravy.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            My best with my 2010 F150 5.4 6 speed 3.55 gears has been 20.4 mpg on 2 separate 500 mile trips over the same route. I must add that was on the stock Wrangler SR-A’s.
            I’ve been around 18 mpg most of the time now that I’m running 10 ply tires. I haven’t run the same 500 mile trip in a fuel saving mind set in a while so I can’t really make a direct comparison as to how much mpg I lost going to heavier more aggressive tires.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    Is this the first time GM and Ford have collaborated on a transmission? Really underscores the importance of development costs these days.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I’m wondering if there’s some sort of “speed” race going on. The 8-speed in my GMC truck keeps engine speeds from 1250-2000 rpm at all road speeds up to about 80 mph. So, where are the other two going to go?

    In 50,000 miles, the only fault I can find with it is that sometimes the aggressive torque converter lock-up program will produce a bit of a “clunk” when the car is coasting at low speed (around 15 mph).

    I think my truck is governor speed limited at something like 92 mph, so maybe the extra two gears will allow to vehicles in which it is installed to maintain a 2k engine rpm up to 100. :{

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      it’s flexibility more than anything. 8-speeds and 10-speeds have the same number of gearsets (4) so the 10 speed can have even finer control at not much of a cost hit.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      The advantage with more cogs is the ability to increase the gear ratio spread. So the top gears are probably long enough, but they will be able to make the bottom gears shorter, which will get you off the line faster and enhance feel.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Believe me, my truck is fast off the line and the buff books time it to 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds. . . and is rated to tow 12,000 lbs. Empty and with sane levels of acceleration, the 1-2 shift occurs before I even cross an intersection. With tow/haul mode engaged, the 1-2 shift is delayed and occurs at about 3,000 rpm.

        Admittedly, my truck’s engine develops 460 lb-ft of torque. But my concern is that slicing each rpm band the engine operates in more and more narrowly makes for more and more shifts and makes greater demands on the mechanism and electronics controlling those shifts. I suppose a smaller engine developing lower torque might need more gears in the lower range, but then it’s not being asked to move 7,300 lbs. of gross vehicle weight, either. And it’s certainly not going to do much to move the vehicle it’s powering at engine speeds below 1500 rpm, not to mention with 3 or 4 cylinders it’s not going to be at all smooth doing it. So, the entire operating range of the engine will be moved up 500-700 rpm.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Weird, I only remember hearing GM and Ford were doing the 10speed together. This is the first I heard of the 9.

    Is it gonna take much to be better than the ZF design in FCA, Honda/Acura, Land Rover implementations?

    Hopefully they get it down because a crummy transmission can easily ruin what is otherwise a very good car. Focus comes to mind. I’m sure the Acuras are decent as well.

  • avatar
    thunderjet

    I’d rather have a 9 speed than a CVT. I’ve yet to meet a CVT I like and I’ve driven/been driven in several cars equipped as such.

  • avatar
    brn

    It’s my understanding that while early implementations of the FCA 9-speed weren’t all that great, the most recent implementations are pretty good.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    Nine speeds?!??
    My 1975 Buick Riviera has a fine three-speed transmission, runs smooth as silk and I get double digit (10 mpg) fuel economy!

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      (LOL)

      Man, I miss the days of doing flippin’ 3000+ rpm in an automatic Neon/Tempo/Corolla/etc at freeway speed. Good old days!

      Honestly, I do miss my Tempos, but not their 3 speed ATX.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        You can still have that feeling in, eg, almost any manual-transmission equipped Honda.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        It is amazing to me that all the big block V-8s of the 1960s and 70s were geared to spin 2500++ RPMs at highway speeds and that overdrive gears were basically abandoned after being somewhat common in the 1940s and 50s when speeds were lower. A 5-6 speed overdrive automatic on the 1960s Cadillac probably would have doubled the fuel economy (e.g. 10 to 20), and made it even quieter, yet no one went above 3 speeds until the 1980s.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This has to be better than the FCA pile-of-junk 9-speed. One test drive, and numerous similar reviews, have turned me off to that one.

  • avatar
    Nooly

    GM has no credibility with transmissions and transmission programming lately. As soon as they can learn how to properly program their 6 and 8 speeds in their trucks, I’ll consider listening about the 9 speed.

  • avatar
    theoldguard

    I started out with 3-on-the-floor, and like everyone else had 4,5, and now six-speed transmissions. With 3 and 4, I wanted more. 5 was just about there. Six is enough. More than that is the company having to boost CAFE at the expense of the consumer.

  • avatar
    ACCvsBig10

    supposedly u dont even hit 9th gear in fca tranny unless your cruising around 84 mph

    seems like a waste in such small suvs and cars

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