If you think today’s 8 and 9-speed automatics are impressive, it is time that you brace yourself for the future. While 10-speed automatic transmissions are in the works already, this week, Ford took things even further, as they have applied for a patent on the world’s first 11-speed automatic transmission.
While Ford has already been working on a 10-speed automatic transmission in conjunction with General Motors, this new 11-speed technology seems to be a development that is unique to Ford and only Ford, as they are the only company listed on the patent.
There is no word yet as to which Ford models will include this new 11-speed transmission, as it is in the initial stages of development, but in any case, Ford is looking to distinguish itself as the only company to offer an 11-speed automatic transmission.
The early paperwork hints at a design that utilizes planetary gearsets – a feature that is generally not used with dual-clutch transmissions, so it appears that this 11-speed transmission will be a conventional, torque-converter automatic.
While this development is certainly exciting, there is no hard timetable for when Ford will start adding this gearbox to its vehicles; it is a common practice for automakers to patent designs on transmissions well before they start implementing the new technology into their vehicles.
In any case, this is a bold move for Ford, as automakers everywhere attempt to add more and more gears into their automatic transmissions. A greater number of gears—and a greater ratio spread—help to keep a car’s engine operating as smoothly as possible at all times, as it ensures that the car is always driving in the most efficient gear possible.
While a lot of cars turn to CVTs (continuously variable transmissions), it’s nice to see that some companies are going the other route, and seeing how many gears they can fit in an automatic transmission to maximize engine performance.
Look for the race to add gears to automatic transmissions continue to escalate, but for now, Ford is doing something that nobody else in the automotive world can claim.