Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. announced they have signed an agreement to develop a high-volume, front-wheel-drive, 6-speed automatic transmission with improved fuel economy. The two companies announced a preliminary agreement in October 2002 to bring this new transmission to market, and signed a definitive agreement on Feb. 7, 2003. The automakers expect the new 6-speed transmission to offer approximately a 4 percent improvement in fuel economy over traditional 4-speed automatic transmissions available in today's front-wheel-drive cars. Under the definitive agreement, Ford and GM agreed to: Share common design, engineering and testing of the new transmission; Jointly work with suppliers to develop and purchase components; Assemble their own transmissions at their respective manufacturing plants.The new transmission will be available beginning in mid-to-late decade on front-wheel-drive cars and sport utility vehicles. Under the arrangement, each company is responsible for integrating the transmission into its own vehicles. Only the base transmission design will be common. Each company will have powertrains that are distinct in feel and performance since the transmissions will be mated to different engines, and the respective vehicle programs will have unique performance dynamics and calibration. The design being pursued is a new transmission architecture with a wider gear ratio span to improve fuel economy. Featuring a compact design, the new 6-speed also will be capable of higher torque capacity when compared to most existing front-wheel-drive transmissions such as 4-speed automatics.