Well it’s one better, isn’t it? It’s not ten. Ford takes a page out of Nigel Tufnel’s playbook and turns the gear wars up a notch.
Unlike Ford’s 10-speed automatic, which is being jointly developed with General Motors, the 11-speed appears to be a Ford-only effort. The application indicates a design that uses planetary gearsets, which are not used with dual-clutch configurations, so this is likely to be a conventional, torque-converter automatic. We don’t know yet which model the new gearbox will appear in—or whether it will be produced at all. It’s not uncommon for automakers to file patents on auto-trans gearing arrangements without any intention of using them in the immediate future.
Still, the auto industry is racing to add more gears to its automatic transmissions, as a greater number of gears—and a greater ratio spread—helps keep an engine operating in the most efficient part of its rev band at any given moment. Many manufacturers, of course, are turning to CVTs for this same reason, but we generally prefer a ratio count that stops short of infinity.