GM is developing their own, brand-new 8-speed automatic transmission for use in many of their models. Planned to be available in both front drive and rear-drive applications, the new transmission is expected to not be related to the current 6-speed transmission families.
However, development is taking a bit longer than expected and, rather than ask customers to wait even longer (taking a significant hit in reputation while GM appears to be behind in the ‘gear race’) GM is planning an interim step.
Starting with the 2014 Corvette and the upcoming CTS (and possibly as a mid-cycle upgrade of the ATS), GM will begin to offer an Aisin designed 8-speed automatic. In an unusual move, GM will then replace the Aisin transmission about a year later with the GM-designed transmission.
This will be relatively transparent to customers, who will only know that the Corvette and CTS/ATS will have 8-speed transmissions next year and going forward. This will help GM hit their mileage targets but also help bolster their high-tech image in the minds of consumers of these high-dollar GM products. Of course, anyone who will be doing work on these models will now have to keep track of which transmission their particular car has (knowing 8-speed auto just won’t be enough). The sound you just heard is thousands of mechanics smacking their forehead thinking about the pain in the neck this will be for them.