The battle over who can cram the most ratios into an automatic transmission may be heating up again, with Ford reportedly turning it all the way up to 11.
The global carmaker is believed to have filed a patent on an 11-speed automatic transmission back in 2013, which recently came to light via the US Patent And Trademark Office.
Ford is known to be introducing a ten-speed unit in its 2016 F-150 Raptor, which will represent the auto with the most ratios for Ford upon its release.
But plans for an 11-speed auto are unknown at this stage, as is any involvement from General Motors which co-developed the Raptor’s ten-speed along with a separate nine-speed auto.
That’s assuming Ford even has any plans for the 11-speed unit, as it may be simply be looking to protect a certain technical aspect of its transmission development from rivals at this stage.
“As a technology leader, we submit patents on innovative ideas as a normal course of business,” Ford’s Paul Seredynski said in a statement to Autoguide.
“Patent submissions help protect our new ideas but do not necessarily indicate future business or product plans.”
The patent paperwork includes plans for three variations on the 11-speed auto, which may enable the transmission to serve a variety of models across both passenger and light commercial segments.
Volkswagen will also offer a ten-speed auto in its Passat midsizer down the track, but where the automotive world goes (if anywhere) beyond nine-, ten- and 11-speed autos is anyone’s guess.
As emissions laws become ever stricter in key western markets, the fight to stay ahead of the curve could motivate carmakers to develop 12-speed autos and beyond.
MORE: BMW Declares 9-Speed Automatics Excessive, Manuals To Stay
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