The automatic transmission seemed limited to three or four gears for decades, and then the automotive world slowly started to see more ratios becoming available. Today, seven-, eight- or nine-speed gearboxes have become rather common. Ford even has an automatic with 10 gears on the way for the future F-150 Raptor. The Blue Oval might not be done yet, though, because the company also now has a patent on an 11-speed box.
The filing, which was discovered by AutoGuide, says this idea "produces eleven forward speed ratios and one reverse speed ratio by selective engagement of three shift elements in various combinations," and the company outlines three different ways of making this possible. The advantage of adding one more ratio is that the gearbox should be able to keep the revs in the ideal portion of the engine's torque curve even longer.
Obviously, automakers patent ideas constantly, and applying for one is no guarantee that the tech ever arrives on the market. Conversely, these documents provide a tiny glimpse at one of the brand's focuses of development.