We’re sure you can imagine our general surprise when we learned that a prototype of the next-generation 2015 Ford F-150 pickup truck was recently spotted leaving General Motors’ Proving Ground in Milford, Michigan. But the presence of The Blue Oval’s next-gen truck on GM’s territory doesn’t seem that big of a surprise when we consider the fact that Ford and GM recently entered into a partnership to jointly develop nine- and 10-speed transmissions, making this collaboration the only reason (that we can think of) for the Ford to be on GM’s turf.
That said, we wonder why Ford drove the prototype to GM, rather than the other way around. After all, Ford has its own proving ground, making us ponder other possibilities for the Ford’s appearance that we don’t know about yet.
As far as GM is concerned, its all-new 2014 Silverado and 2014 Sierra, along with the 2015 Tahoe, 2015 Suburban, and 2015 Yukon, debuted with what many consider to be an outdated carryover six-speed gearbox. Even so, GM’s new trucks still manage to achieve respectable and sometimes class-leading fuel economy figures, but it’s undeniable that the upcoming jointly-developed transmissions are long overdue (for GM especially) and should help bring out the increased power of the trucks’ new line of EcoTec3 engines, while improving fuel economy even further. GM is expected to implement the new transmissions on 2015 model year K2XX-based vehicles, including the 2015 Silverado. On the competitive front, the next-gen 2015 F-150 will have one of these co-developed transmissions, while the Ram 1500 recently received an eight-speed gearbox.
Ultimately, GM, Ford, and other truck makers will need to noticeably improve their trucks’ fuel economy due to upcoming federal fuel regulations coming for 2016 and 2025 model year vehicles.
So, bring on the 9- and ten-speeds, GM (and Ford).