Ford Developing 10-Speed Transmission – How Many Speeds is Too Many?

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With the 2015 Ford F-150 Atlas Concept, Ford displayed a ton of new aerodynamic features. Sources say that a 10-speed transmission is in the works as well. How many transmission speeds are too much?

Ford Developing 10-Speed Transmission

How many speeds is simply too many? Are we going to see 12, 16, 20? Where will it end?

The 2015 Ford F-150 Atlas Concept seems to have done exactly what Ford hoped it would – steal the spotlight from GM. With a large variety of new aerodynamic features it seems to be on its way to meeting CAFE requirements. Among these new features are active wheel shutters that close when reaching highway speeds to reduce drag. Also, it adds active grille sheets and a front air dam to cut the front drag. And it also has power running boards that retract when driving at a high speed. Last, but not least, is word from SAE.org that a 10-speed planetary transmission is in the works.

Most everyone has seemingly figured out by now that to improve gas mileage in trucks, you need to add more speeds. In fact, most automakers either have or are working on 8-speed transmissions combined with more fuel efficient, lighter engines and body frames/styles. And while Ford and GM signed a ” memorandum of understanding” in October according to Pickuptrucks.com, it didn’t seem we would hear anything more about it for a while (see: Ford and Toyota Hybrid Agreement). According to Pickuptrucks.com, “… there may also be ways for transmissions to take advantage of duel-set axle gears that can shift from axle ratio to axle ratio like a 10-speed bike.”

Even though it would shock us to see the 2015 Ford F-150 have a 10-speed transmission, Ford did keep their active wheel shutters secret.

The question then is how many speeds is too many? What will happen when the driver wants to down-shift for more torque, will the truck downshift enough? Or what would happen if they decided to offer this is a manual? Most likely not, since that shifting pattern is largely foreign to most drivers.

We have been saying for a while that the manual transmission is dead, could a 10-speed transmission be the death knell? Most likely it seems. It also seems that the shifting will be more akin to the newer cars with the shifting option on the side if wanted.

Unfortunately, many questions without any real answers. What do you think? Is the CAFE standards forcing automakers to build less “truck” pickups?

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  1. LJC says:

    Gasers have a much wider usable RPM than diesels. With that said, a 4 cyl diesel and 10 speed are a likely marriage. This would produce three things and they are the following: a significant jump in MPG, much higher sticker price (5 to 7 grand increase over a 6 speed and gaser) and mighty complicated drive train.

  2. Mickey says:

    Is the CAFE standards forcing automakers to build less “truck” pickups?
    That seems to be the idea. When it comes to towing with a 10 speed can be a question in itself. Still doesn’t state Ford will be using “J” standards.

  3. D. Gallina says:

    The government needs to get out of our lives, CAFE standards are absurd and just another attempt at dictating what a “free” people can and can’t do, bogus

  4. Mickey says:

    At least one is getting out. Ray Lahood want’s out. Thank you Ray for doing us a favor.

  5. mk says:

    6 speed trannies do a lot more shifting in and out of 6th back down to 5th a ton more than say just 15 years ago with 4 speed autos and as far as I am concerned in trucks anyways, the mpg has not improved but mere 1-2 mpg is all. How can an 8 speed tranny constantly shifting in and out of top gears be any better? The trannies better be able to do it more seemlessly than they do now that is for sure if they develop an 8 speed or an unheard of 10 speed tranny.

  6. Don says:

    The 10 speed will be a 2015 or 2016 MY. Ford hasn’t had a manual in the F150 since 2008 and even then it was only a base V6, mostly XL’s.

  7. Rick says:

    I read an article recently about Chrysler’s new 9 speed transmission that they intend to install in this minivan. An engineer working for ZF stated that anything over 9 speeds reaches a point of diminishing returns. But the engineer said theoretically there isn’t any more to gain from more than 9 gears as other factors come into play that influence the end result largely because of MPG ratings that are soon to go up. In the dogged, but in some cases, necessary pursuit of lighter curb weight, vehicles may become less safe. It’s arguable for having 8 or more closely-spaced gears would allow one to use a much lower rear end ( higher numerical value ), formerly not feasible with a 4 or 6 speed that would aid acceleration in the crucial first 4 gears, then smoothly taper off until the overdrive is reached. Vehicle weights could then remain static for the time being, ( saving millions ) to offset looming CAFE req’s and yet still meet today’s and tomorrow’s crash/safety standards without compromising structural integrity. Ten speeds seems like overkill, but if Ford has found a way make it work, maybe they have an unorthodox design, then I say do it. Why? Because trucks, like tractor trailers, are inherently heavier than cars and TT’s have numerous gears. So the model is out there.

  8. Mason says:

    If manufactures think that the more the better why, but just skip 10 gears and go right to 100. The maximum should be 7 or 8; enough ratio’s for fuel economy, yet the truck won’t be shifting every waking second.

  9. Mason says:

    well said Rick, but I would even guess that anything over 8 speeds won’t give any return. That’s what the chief engineer at ZF said when the European auto magazine Sport Auto asked if even more gears were better. This was at the debut of the ZF 8 speed at a point when only Lexus had an 8 speed.

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