There was a time when we thought seven gears was overkill; now we have Audi, BMW and Lexus offering eight-speeders. And it’s not going to stop there, for now General Motors and Ford are jointly developing 9- and 10-speed transmissions to improve the fuel economy of their vehicle line-up, according to an Automotive News report. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between them.

Sources have revealed that GM is heading the design of a 9-speed gearbox for front-wheel drive vehicles; Ford a 10-speeder for rear-wheel drive cars. The companies began work early this year and are still in the design phase.

By teaming up, both automakers should benefit from financial savings in engineering and product development. The gearboxes are expected to boost the fuel efficiency and refinement of their vehicles. With more gears on hand, the engines do not have to rev as hard.

A decade ago, the top two of Detroit’s Big Three agreed to work together on a series of six-speed automatics (which included the Ford 6F and GM 6T70, latter pictured) for front-wheel drive cars.