General Motors promises a premium and refined experience with its new nine-speed automatic gearbox. The new transmission will roll out with the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu, 2017 Chevrolet Cruze and 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, while a new 10-speed automatic transmission handles shifting duties for rear-wheel drive vehicles.
“This thing is going to excite our customers,” Scott Kline, assistant chief engineer for the Hydra-Matic 9T50 9-speed automatic told WardsAuto. “When you get in it, you can tell it is a premium product.”
GM estimates the new transmission will net a two-percent increase in fuel economy and is seen as a major step forward to meet future emissions and fuel economy regulations, barring those don’t go away under a Trump administration.
However, nine and ten cogs may be the end of the road when it comes to GM transmissions.
“We don’t see the benefit of going higher than 10 forward speeds,” said Chris Meagher, executive director of Transmission and Electrification Hardware Engineering .
At this time, innovation, engineering and technology can’t imagine any additional forward speeds, but Meagher notes the “never say never” line of thinking, too. When GM introduced its six-speed automatics, the automaker never thought there would be room for improvement to reach eight, nine or ten speeds.
GM plans to introduce the nine-speed auto, which is developed in conjunction with Ford, to 10 vehicles by the end of 2017.