What do Mustang and Camaro have in common?

9It’s like the Hatfields swapping recipes with the McCoys. Or Michigan and Ohio State drawing up plays together.

Starting next year, the Chevrolet Camaro will share a transmission with the Ford Mustang.

Cross-town collaboration between General Motors and Ford Motor Co. was once unfathomable. But cost cutting, engineer shortages and increasing regulations made it inevitable.

“It is surprising,” said Gale Halderman, the Ford designer responsible for the exterior of the first Mustang. “Back in my time, we couldn’t even talk to anybody from GM.”

Detroit’s pony-car war has been raging for half a century now. In recent years, Ford and GM have worked together on a number of projects, including six-speed transmissions used in the Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Escape and Chevy Equinox. But none of those vehicles stirs up emotions like a Mustang’s full-throated roar or a Camaro’s smooth purr.

The 2017 Camaro ZL1 is the first of eight vehicles slated to get GM’s 10-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. Some versions of the Mustang are expected to get the same gearbox for 2018. A screenshot from Ford’s dealership parts-lookup system, posted on the website Mustang6G.com last week, all but confirmed longstanding rumors that the Mustang was in line for a 10-speed automatic. (A Ford spokesman declined to discuss its future product plans.)

That transmission and a nine-speed automatic for front-wheel-drive vehicles were jointly developed by Ford and GM under a partnership they started in 2013. Ford has said the 10-speed will be offered in the 2017 F-150 this fall, and GM is expected to put it on full-size pickups next year.

But that’s not to say customers would ever notice any similarities between the Camaro and Mustang or the F-150 and Chevy Silverado. Even though some internal components are identical, the two companies will build, integrate, program and tune their transmissions independently.

“We will each use our own control software to ensure that each transmission is carefully matched to the individual, brand-specific vehicle DNA for each company,” Craig Renneker, Ford’s chief engineer of transmission and driveline components and pre-program engineering, said when the automakers announced their 2013 deal.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne, in a manifesto last year advocating for industry consolidation, complained that up to half of a vehicle’s development cost is spent on proprietary components that are “not discernible to customers.”

3 Emerging Trends in Automotive Engineering

2Not too many people know automotive trends the way the staff does at The Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research (OSU CAR). This interdisciplinary research center at OSU’s College of Engineering focuses on advanced electric propulsion and energy storage systems, engines and alternative fuels, intelligent transportation and vehicular communication systems, autonomous vehicles, vehicle chassis systems, and vehicle safety.

“One of the biggest trends right now in automotive engineering is improving engine efficiency and fuel economy,” says Giorgio Rizzoni, director of OSU CAR. “This includes downsizing, down-speeding, direct fuel injection, and boosting.”

Other engineering trends focus on improving transmissions (adding speeds), accessory load reduction through the intelligent energy management of other vehicle components, vehicle electrification, hybridization, improved battery management systems, new battery chemistries, and power electronics.

“Weight reduction in vehicle subsystems is also being tested by using lightweight structures made from alternative materials such as aluminum, magnesium, composites, plastics, and multi-material construction,” adds Rizzoni.

Battery Systems

Battery management systems are being designed to meet performance, life, and warranty goals for both batteries and their monitoring and management systems. “Automakers need to fully understand how varying operational limits affect the life of battery systems through extensive testing and modeling, followed by developing sophisticated algorithms to track and predict various parameters, such as state of charge and state of health through the life of the battery,” comments Rizzoni.

In order to expand battery operating range and reduce costs, some researchers are designing and testing new battery chemistries and subsystems. Advanced chemistries could allow batteries to operate through greater temperature extremes, last longer, and reduce weight and cost. Other efforts are being made to reduce the cost of the ancillary systems, such as cooling, to further reduce the total cost of the battery system.