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Ford Patents 11-Speed Automatic Transmission

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Ford Patents 11-Speed Automatic Transmission

For many decades, automatic transmission appeared limited to three or four gears. Then something shifted and gears started to creep forward. Slowly, the automotive world began to see more gear ratios becoming available. 
In 2002, ZF Friedrichshafen and BMW introduced the first six-speed. In 2003, Mercedes-Benz's 7G-Tronic became the first seven-speed. In 2007, Toyota introduced an eight-speed on their Lexus LS 460. 
With the ensuing gear galore among automakers, six-, seven-, eight-, and nine-speed gearboxes became rather frequent. Then Ford, in collaboration with General Motors, designed a ten-speed transmission. The Blue Oval Company continued to tinker, and news has now emerged that the company owns a patent on an 11-speed gearbox. 
Apparently, on October 4, 2013, Ford filed a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for an 11-speed transmission. When filing for the patent, Ford said that their idea produces 11 forward speed ratios as well as one reverse speed ratio using three shift elements in different combinations. The company also outlined three different ways of making that possible. In essence, the patent application document reveals three different transmission configurations with varied combinations of gears, clutches and brakes. 
In context, Ford and General Motors have on occasions collaborated in building transmissions. In 2002, the two Detroit automakers began working on six-speed gearboxes. However, the 2008 financial difficulties slowed down the companies’ transmissions development. In the years that followed, Ford and GM lagged behind in the transmission speed race. 
In 2013, the two companies announced that their engineers would jointly design nine- and ten-speed transmissions for both companies’ new cars and trucks. Joint research was meant to help the two automakers develop new generation fuel-efficient transmissions faster and less expensively. The deal was expected to help the companies adequately comply with federal regulations on fuel efficiency and put the automakers back into a pole position in the transmission race. Note, however, that the 11-speed patent is Ford's only. 
So, Is Ford working on an 11-speed Automatic? 
According to Ford’s representative, Paul Seredynski, a patent application is a standard procedure in protecting new ideas. According to him, the new patent is not necessarily an indication of plans or future products. The cryptic reply appears to suggest it will be a while before 11-speed automatics become available. 
The transmission race will inevitably continue. While consumers may not follow the science or market dynamics of the race, they will welcome anything that offers smoother rides and enhanced fuel efficiency. 
As the automotive world wait for the first 11-speed automatic, remember your current vehicle’s transmission will determine your ride quality and fuel use. For the best transmission service, you can trust Pro-tech Transmissions. Since 1999, our qualified technicians have repaired countless automatic, standard and heavy duty transmissions. Take care of your transmission, contact us today. 

Photo Credit: Travis Ryan 


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