General Motors and Ford Motor Company, have designed a new six-speed automatic transmission that would go into production by 2006.

General Motors and Ford Motor Company, have designed a new six-speed transmission that would go into production by 2006.

The new transmission is expected to offer an improvement in fuel economy by up to four per cent over traditional four-speed automatic ‘boxes. reported that the six-speed would also help to cut emissions and could be used in all-wheel-drive passenger vehicles and SUVs.

Dave Szczupak, vice president of powertrain operations at Ford, said: "Six-speeds are the future. They help to optimise power, smooth operation and fuel economy. This is why they are going to become more prevalent.”

Under an agreement signed in October 2002, the two automotive giants agreed to co-operate on the designing, engineering and testing of the transmission. With planned new investment totalling approximately R4,68 billion for three manufacturing plants, the actual production and exterior casing of the gearboxes will be left to each manufacturer.