Spied: New Ford Exits GM Proving Grounds

F-150 @ GM 2 II

Spy photos by KGP Photography

We just got a note from one of our favorite spy shooters who's been seeing some interesting things while waiting in a secret location, which is typically outside truckmakers’ proving grounds. Here's what the spy photographer wrote us:

"We saw something very unexpected leaving General Motors' Proving Grounds in Milford, Mich.  — a prototype of Ford's 2015 F-150 pickup. This is just about the last thing we expected to see while trolling GM turf, but there it was. When we spoke to one of our in-the-know people at Ford, alarm bells didn't go off on the other end of the phone, so it was clear that we hadn't blown the lid off some industrial espionage scandal. Although they wouldn't provide any details, their demeanor made it clear there was a logical reason for something that seemed so ... illogical.

"This very out-of-place prototype — caught exiting what is most certainly enemy territory — could be giving us our first piece of physical evidence of the fruits from the Ford/General Motors joint-venture transmission program. This past spring, it was widely reported that GM and Ford had entered into a partnership to develop a nine- and 10-speed automatic transmission for use in a wide variety of vehicles. No vehicle specifics have been provided thus far. With this top secret F-150 prototype clearly spending time on GM's turf, the logical conclusion seems to be that the F-150 will be outfitted with either a nine-speed or 10-speed variant of that joint-venture transmission. Regardless of the final cog count for the 2015 F-150's automatic transmission, it seems seems certain that it will top the eight-speed automatic offered on the latest Ram pickups.

"The new 2014 Silverado made its debut with, what some called, an out-dated carryover six-speed transmission. We expect that the new fuel-saving, joint-venture transmission will also make its appearance in the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra, with a timetable coinciding with the official market launch of the 2015 Ford F-150."

No matter what happens at Ford or GM, they'll both need to do something dramatic to deal with the coming federal regulations rolling in for 2016 and 2025 model-year vehicles, where, in some cases, full-size pickups will need to significantly improve their current fuel-economy numbers.

F-150 @ GM 3 II



It only makes sense to team up and kick the crap out of the competition. Both will benefit the cost savings and fuel economy. Kudos to GM and FORD.

Certainly an unusual sight, but this was my first thought since it had been reported that they were working on this transmission. I am only surprised they hadn't adapted it to a current model for cross-town testing instead of showing GM a glimpse at their next model.

O Boy, next this will have one tuck for both companies with just a different grill on the front.

Looks like the Ford will not be much changed, right down the wipers that are out in the wind and crooked.

This is great news. I'm glad the new 10 speed is going in at launch. No waiting.

If this is true, its a statement!
This is USA vs. Italy/Europe/Japan!!

I don't believe it was transmission matters only. There is something more going on there. Why would they bring their entire truck to GM?
If it was fitted with new trans already what would they be doing there? They have their own proving grounds.
If it was to be fitted with new trans, I'm sure the transmission would be brought to Ford's building. Not the other way around.
And I don't believe the entire transmission development program is located on GMs grounds for that matter.

This is interesting any way you spin it.

Any other ideas, guys?

Fords testing center was closed for Repair work so GM is letting them use their facility for a price.

Anything to improve economies of scale, improve efficiency, reliability, and product costs is a good idea. I am no brand loyalist, so any corporate cooperation that results in improved consumer products is ok with me.

They are teaming up to one up ram trucks. I like it. Competition will be fierce.!!

Why the he'll are the spy photographers calling their kin over at Ford's to find out if they stole it. Lol

GM is paying the driver to bring the truck over so they can see how a real truck is made. After all Ford has been kicking GM's but in 1/2 ton sales.

Definitely strange that Ford would need to bring their truck to GM for testing. Maybe part of the deal was Ford gets to put the transmission in their trucks first so GM wants to see how it performs in their truck. GM must know about what is under the hood of that Ford as well. BUT I thought I read an article that said Ford and GM were considering joining up for a transmission and they decided against it. Didn't they? Maybe they teamed up on a new engine without telling anyone?

They decided against the 8 speeds. They are doing 10 speeds.

Something wicked is coming this way soon! Fiat truck? LOL

The car makers are looking a bit desperate on this point.

For those who've driven a four speed, five speed or six speed V8 half ton in recent years, the notion that we can only survive with something that looks like the multiple gears on a ten speed bicycle seems a little bit overwrought.

In practical terms, I drove an International dump truck (1 ton) in my first job. Drove it alot. Drove it overloaded at lot. Pulled very heavy trailers with it almost every day.

It never overheated or burned up a clutch, but did scare me a few times with stopping distances. I mention this because my old truck had a simple four speed tranny with low gears. It got the job done.

All of the fuss about extra gears is great IF your daily work involves a truck that has to be loaded to the max (or more). At that point I ask--how will you make it stop?

GM and Ford still have the joint venture. GM in charge of developing 10spds for trucks and Ford developing 9spds for FWD cars. It makes since that the a Ford truck was brought to GM

Both need the extra cogs in order to make full use out of more modest power bands in smaller engines that I fully expect to see coming. I think we'll see a spread of about 10:1 at the peak and this should be as close as we can get to perfect using existing technology.

I wondre if these new transmissions will be capable of handling hybrid technology or the extra torque of diesel or turbo gas motors?!

While the joint transmission could be a factor, proving grounds are sometimes "borrowed" by other firms when someone's particular layout has features that their own facility may not. Michigan State Police has used the Chrysler Proving Grounds every year for the annual new police vehicle evaluation... and Chrysler obviously has no problem with Ford and Chevy police-package cars and trucks on their property. It's entirely possible Ford asked to use the GM facility for a particular feature of the course, in which GM would simply not have any prototypes out that day. That would be why the Ford people didn't freak when asked about it.

10 speed and anything, wait until Ram comes out with the 14 speed in two years.

LOL Ford couldn't figure out how to make their trucks last so they had to go to the best for help.

It's simple. The more gears you stuff in, the shorter each gear has to be. The shorter each gear gets, the more shifting the trans. will have to do. The more shifting the trans. has to do, the more heat builds up and the more annoying it gets for the driver especially when loaded.

The 4 and 5 speed autos were just fine and will prove to have been more reliable designs. Years from now we'll look back and think, "Man, those old transmissions lasted a lot longer and worked a lot better".

with all the camo especially in the shot further away looks a lot like a Sierra with Ford wheels and mirrors. Just sayin...

I'm an idiot and I would like to retract my previous statement.

Makes a lot of sense to me - transmissions cost hundreds of millions of dollars to develop, so sharing that cost is a great way to save money.

What's more, very few Chevy buyers cross-shop Ford (and vice-versa). It's a rivalry, but it's pretty clearly defined...hard to get one side to switch over.

Still, when Ford pulled out of the hybrid deal with Toyota, I figured that they weren't interested in working with other automakers any longer. Guess I was wrong about that...

Ram has the competition on the run. lol Looking for help where ever they can find it. Even from cross town rivals.

HEMI V8 They might of went to Ram but Mexico was to far of a drive and to long of a boat ride to find Italy DOH.

NEWS FLASH! GM's 2014 Chevy Silverado is already being built in Mexico.

@ Johnny Doe, the RAM 1500 is built at Warren Truck Assembly, except for the low volume standard cabs. Check your facts.

No matter what happens at Ford or GM, they'll both need to do something dramatic to deal with the coming federal regulations rolling in for 2016 and 2025 model-year vehicles, where, in some cases, full-size pickups will need to significantly improve their current fuel-economy numbers.


I think you find diesel will address that problem as well as turbo/supercharged smaller capacity V6 gas engines. Even a 2.0 litre 4 cylinder Eco Boost will move a future aluminium F-150, they have 250hp and 300ftlb of torque.

Ford have the 5 cylinder 3.2 Duratroque. Great engine. It should be able to run cheaper than the VM V6 Ram diesel.

GM can now buy a VM diesel off of Fiat/Ram. And of course will run the Italian VM as well. GM still have Izuzu they can go to for a diesel as I think they still are friends.

Why not? GM can run a Ford transmission and a Fiat engine, saves them investing into technology.

Nissan is now becoming the Cummins vehicle, great move. The ISF 2.8 looks like a great diesel as well as the 5 litre V8.

The revised Nissan V8 here in Australia in the Patrol is supposed to be relatively economical for a gas V8 I've read. Like has been pointed out how accurate is journalism.

This leaves Toyota, who like GM don't really invest enough, they are conservative. But Toyota do have the 4.5 V8 diesel, which isn't the most economical.


Who cares why that Ford is where it is, the guy might have a friend at GM and they had a coffee.

Or GM own it and are making comparisons.

Ram is going to put a super 10 transmission in next.
Seriously is ford and GM scared of what ram is doing or what?
Maybe all three are scared of nissan. I think ford sent the driver over there to borrow a cup of sugar. LOL

Personally I think it has to do with a new engine.

This could be happening because of the joint-venture transmission. Ya'll have to realize the DESIGN of the transmission will be the same, GM will have their own software and Ford will have their own. The software is the thing that makes the transmission perform the way it does.

It doesn't really matter why the Ford F-150 is at the GM test site. Maybe GM bought the F-150, maybe Ford is using a GM test site, or maybe this is related to the joint venture developing the new transmissions. Whatever the case maybe it can only be positive. It is just smart business that the two remaining US owned car and truck manufacturers cooperative work in a global market. Spread the development cost and share technology. This lowers costs and develops a much better product. If and when the Chinese enter the US market the American manufacturers will need to be much more competitive and much more efficient.

I imagine Ford will make significan strides in the next gen F150. They do it every cycle and I expect to see significant powertrain changes as the cornerstone. Direct fuel injection, updates to the ecoboost engine, and more forward gears. I doubt that we'll see more than 8 speeds right away. I also doubt that the basic suspension architecture will change either.

Hard to say why it was done. Maybe they knew it would drive the speculators and paparazzi crazy?
It probably was done to test the 10 speed transmission.

I would think the chip modules would be the same between GM and Ford. They will not have a different system.

The programming of the chips will be to suit different engine characteristics. Even GM will have different engines, do you think they'll have diffferent computers?

@HEMI V8 Their are more Rams made in Mexico all HDs and as you pointed out single cab 1500s. GM only makes 1500 crew cabs trucks in Mexico. Which was why I made the joke.

@ Big Al from Oz GM would most likely use their in house built 4.5L Duramax that produce 310 hp and 520 tq as they already have the plant built and ready to roll the only changes they might need to make would be Emissions related or they could drop in their 2.8L Duramax.


It's simple. The more gears you stuff in, the shorter each gear has to be. The shorter each gear gets, the more shifting the trans. will have to do. The more shifting the trans. has to do, the more heat builds up and the more annoying it gets for the driver especially when loaded.

The 4 and 5 speed autos were just fine and will prove to have been more reliable designs. Years from now we'll look back and think, "Man, those old transmissions lasted a lot longer and worked a lot better".

Posted by: WXman | Sep 25, 2013 11:57:17 AM

It's a matter of reliability vs economy and the world is going towards economy. Every vehicle 70 years ago could be fixed with a single set of standard sockets. Now everything is computer driven and it takes time for even mechanics who deal with this everyday to understand these systems. We might see failures in this originally, but in the long term this is the correct course of action. We've had 13-18 speed (manual) transmissions in big rigs for decades now and they have held up well. I'm sure an automatic automotive version will do just as well.

@Big Al from Oz

Why is all the Toyota guys talk about the 4.5L twin turbo diesel when it is not that great to me nor practical. I disagree with tundra headquarters fanbois article http://www.tundraheadquarters.com/blog/tundra-cummins-diesel/ as it not practical at all to use that engine as it won't get the best power or FE. The next problem is it has no name brand recognition here in the states so you would only be able to sell them to a Toyota guy as that nameplate can't stand against Cummins or Power Stroke if Ford decides to use it. Then you would have to convince the Toyota gut to pay for something that would cost more than the 5.7L iforce. I would argue that Toyota has no viable North American diesel option.

I am surprised that GM allowed this junk onto their property. After owning what I've owned for the last little while I can say that under the camo is junk.

Ford has no casting business. GM does. Hmmmmm. WXMan is onto something. Both my 4l60, and 4r75 were solid. The 4l60 never got too hot going through Appalachians on a 100 degree day with over a 1000 lbs of gear and a 4000 lb trailer. 20 hrs without stopping except for gas. My 20011 6r80 always runs a tad hotter. I think the 3.73 in the Silverado helped.


Wrong, Ram makes almost as much trucks in Mexico as they make in Warren Michigan. All Ram chassis cabs are made in Mexico.

@AD, Obviously Toyota would tune up the power for a consumer model, just as every automaker does.

@ Big Al from Oz... No just the structual design will be the same as far as the components and the whole concept of the transmission and that where it ends. The software witch controls the shift pattern, performance,( the brain basically) etc. Thats when the two company's will take it in house.

@RamTruckGuy - why would GM have to buy the VM motor off of Ram? GM owns 50% of VM Motori (Fiat owns other 50%). Actually, the Ram diesel was actually designed a few years ago to be in certain GM Europe vehicles, but was never used. VM Motori also builds the 2 diesels used in the new Colorado now in the Pacific Rim countries.


Obviously your answer is sprinkle some magic dust on it and more power.

BTW - Ford is developing the truck transmission and GM is developing the car transmission. My own opinion they should skip the transmission altogether and install a turbine in them.

@dpach - not for long, Fiat is going to buy out GMC's 50% stake in VM Motori. The deal should be finalized some time this year.

That suks I don't want gm anything on my ford truck you cant build your own parts ford??

For some that aren't aware, Ford already shares 6-speed transmissions with Chevy. This year Ford will outsell Chevy by over 200k trucks. Ford doesn't need help. But, our wonderful government kicked up the fuel economy requirements for 2016. That is the only reason for this. The tranny has been in the works for 3 years.

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