A story in Detroit News says that Ford and GM will unite forces to share the E-Flex powertrain technology that powers their Volt. Ford and GM are not at their first time collaboration. The front wheel drive 6-speed automatic transmissions used in the larger cars and crossovers (Flex, Taurus, Acadia, etc) was jointly developed by the two companies. GM has also collaborated with Daimler, Chrysler and BMW on the Two-Mode hybrid system.
Engines and transmissions represent a huge portion of the development cost of a new car or truck, yet they are not immediately obvious to the consumer in the way that a new navigation system or body design is. Developing an entirely new engine can cost $1 billion. Splitting those costs with another car company can save an automaker $500 million. A new transmission can easily cost $800 million — or $400 million if the development costs are split.
This new joint venture should bring the costs of the new Volt down, as well as Ford’s future line of hybrids in the making.