Mike Stevens | Oct 1, 2012

Mercedes-Benz kicked off a transmission war with its seven-speed auto, and Lexus upped the ante in 2007 with its eight-speed unit.

Specialist ZF followed with its own eight-speed shifter, which has featured in a wide range of Audi, BMW, Chrysler and Jaguar models.

Now, American icons Ford and GM have reportedly partnered on new nine- and 10-speed cog swappers, taking on ZF's upcoming nine-speed and a 10-speed from Hyundai.

According to US industry paper Automotive News, suppliers have quietly tipped that development of the new transmissions is in the early stages - although neither carmaker has offered any confirmation.

A GM spokesperson reportedly told the paper that discussions between the two brands are ongoing, focusing on the joint development of "a variety of all-new fuel-efficient transmissions".

The report adds that GM is expected to build the nine-speed unit, destined for front-wheel-drive models, while Ford will produce the 10-speed for rear-wheel-drive and performance models.

For now, GM is understood to be developing its own eight-speed shifter, expected to debut in a new Cadillac model in the coming year.

Ford has also been working on its own eight-speed unit, although recent reports suggest that this project has been binned in favour of the new joint venture.

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