Ford Cranks It Up to 11… Gears

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How many gears did your first car or truck have? Three? Four? Five? When I was growing up four-speed automatics were pretty common (and some manufacturers still use them today), and manuals were mostly 5-speeds. There was an occasional sixth thrown into the mix, but that was it.

Now, 8-speed automatics are becoming the norm for many manufacturers. You can find an 8-speed box from ZF in everything from a Dodge Charger to an Aston Martin Vanquish. While Ford’s maximum gear output is currently six, they have already said they’re bringing a 10-speed unit to the F-150 and the Raptor.

CHECK OUT: Ford Confirms 10-Speed Automatic for Non-Raptor F-150s 

Now, when you thought that 10 gears would be enough, Ford has patented a new 11-speed unit. Yes, 11 forward gears. Perhaps they got their inspiration from a mountain bike manufacturer?

Regardless, the benefits of more gears are generally obvious; they improve fuel efficiency and can be tuned to stay in the power band more easily on small displacement, turbo engines. Even if you think 11 gears is too many, you have to applaud Ford for going that route and not using a continuously-variable transmission. Infinite gears is a great idea, but in practical use they don’t feel the same as a traditional automatic.

This is only a patent, which doesn’t even mean Ford is planning to put this transmission into production, but we wouldn’t be surprised if they incorporate at least part of the design in a future transmission.

What do you think? Shift your gears over the forums and let us know!

via [AutoGuide]

Chad Kirchner is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other auto sites.

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