The folks at AutoGuide have unearthed a patent for an 11 speed transmission filed by Ford 18 months ago. It uses a combination of clutches, brakes and gears to achieve this mechanical miracle, but will it ever find its way into a production vehicle?
“As a technology leader, we submit patents on innovative ideas as a normal course of business. Patent submissions help protect our new ideas but do not necessarily indicate future business or product plans,” said Ford powertrain spokesman Paul Seredynski in an official statement.
Automatic transmissions with 7 and 8 forward gears are becoming as common as political promises as manufacturers struggle to meet more stringent fuel economy and emissions regulations. Ford itself is rumored to be working on a 10-speed transmission for the upcoming 2017 F-150 Raptor. It has already spent many millions to develop its EcoBoost V-6 to replace the usual (and thirsty) V-8 found under the hood of most standard pickups. That and shaving 700 lbs from the weight of the truck have boosted overall gas mileage for the regular F-150 from 18 to 20 mpg.
As motorists, we love to listen to the sound of our engine as it accelerates through the gears. But the truth is, each internal combustion engine has a “sweet spot” where it generates its most power, most torque or is most fuel efficient. Once you decide what you want the engine to do — give maximum acceleration or return the highest fuel economy — a transmission with lots of gears can keep it in the ideal rev range for the intended purpose.
So why not just use a CVT, or continuously variable transmission? One reason is they are not as reliable as a traditional gearbox. Another is that they aren’t up to towing 10,000 load. And a third reason is a vehicle equipped with a CVT just doesn’t sound right to many drivers. We know Ford could manufacture an 11 speed transmission. The question is, will it?