So, GM and Ford – the classic Detroit rivals – have announced that they will work together, on of all things transmissions. This in itself is interesting but hardly earth shaking; unless you read between the lines. This news release said that they would jointly build 9 and 10-speed automatic transmissions. So what?
This is a trend that the Germans started, because they did not succumb to the hysteria over electric cars that have gripped North America in the past 5 years. They knew that advances in fuel economy (realistic ones) would come from multi-gear tranny’s and superior diesel engines. That’s what’s between the lines!
Everyone wants better fuel mileage; but how to get there?
Well governments are demanding that vehicles achieve huge leaps in fuel economy – and they are the ones pushing electric because it’s played well at the polls. But electric still has the same fatal flaw that killed it over a hundred years ago – Range. Trendy technology be damned Greenies – we need results!
In a country this size electric is a misfire and GM and Ford know it. GM struggles with the Volt because it’s expensive. Ford plugins are available – sure they work, but again, expensive. Detroit has bowed to pressure from Washington because they need friends (as we all do). But this announcement quietly announces a change in direction. Forget electric for a moment and look and see that Ford has done great work with its EcoBoost engines and GM is coming on strong with fuel sipping motors – but where you can pick up 20 even 30% improvements at once is with more gears. This is achievable – no Voodoo tech needed. Mercedes has had 7-speeds for years and they are coming out with a 9-speed – they work and save fuel. This “new” tech is also cost effective. Oh, but what am I on about... of course, if you love the planet you apparently don’t care about money – and you need a pile of it if you go Electric. It’s expensive to build, sell and maintain. AND that will not change till we have an extraordinary break through in battery technology. Anyone got one? No? Gears on the other hand are here, work and can be built at a reasonable price. Oh, and they don’t wear out, go flat or simply die. Gearing – not sexy – but my wallet loves it. Way to go Detroit!