Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. are teaming up to build a new, fuel-saving, six-speed frontwheel-drive (FWD) automatic transmission. The transmission will be jointly designed, engineered, and tested by the automakers. Production will be at GM's Warren, Mich., transmission plant, and Ford's Sterling Heights, Mich., and Sharonville, Ohio, transmission plants. The automakers will invest a total $720 million in their plants and retain over 1,100 jobs. Upgrades will be in new equipment, tooling, and facilities.

The six-speed transmission is said to offer a 4% improvement in fuel economy over traditional four-speed automatics for FWD vehicles. First production is slated for 2006.

Each company is responsible for integrating the transmission into its own new vehicles. The resulting powertrains will be distinct in feel and performance because the transmissions mate to different engines.