Engineering teams from Ford (NYSE: F) and GM (NYSE: GM) are working together to develop new nine- and 10-speed automatic transmissions with an eye toward improving automotive performance and fuel efficiency, the companies announced today.

Once developed and tested, the new transmissions will be used in both front- and rear-wheel drive cars, SUVs, trucks, and crossover vehicles. Each company will manufacture its own transmissions in its own plants with many common components.

"We expect these new transmissions to raise the standard of technology, performance and quality for our customers while helping drive fuel economy improvements into both companies' future product portfolios," Jim Lanzon, GM's vice president of global transmission engineering, was quoted as saying.

Teams from both Ford and GM have already begun initial design work on the new transmissions, though no timetable for when the transmissions will be available for full-scale rollout was announced.

This new agreement between Ford and GM is the third time the two auto manufacturers have collaborated on transmissions in the past 10 years, including developing six-speed front-wheel drive transmissions currently used in more than 8 million cars around the world.

The companies said one objective of the latest partnership is to "keep hardware identical in the Ford and GM transmissions. This will maximize parts commonality and give both companies economy of scale." However, each company will use its own control software to ensure the new transmissions match their respective vehicle platforms.

The companies said additional details and specifications of the new transmissions will be released at "the appropriate time" prior to launch.

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Fool contributor Tim Brugger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.