GM Spreads Its Nine-speed Automatic Around, Implies It's Not Like FCA's Nine-Speed

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
gm spreads its nine speed automatic around implies its not like fcas nine speed

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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2 of 33 comments
  • Theoldguard Theoldguard on Dec 07, 2016

    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.

  • ACCvsBig10 ACCvsBig10 on Dec 08, 2016

    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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