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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ford Bringing PowerShift Dual-Clutch Six-Speed Transmisson to U.S. in 2010

Ford has officially announced what we've known for a while; that the automaker will bring its PowerShift six-speed dual-clutch transmission Stateside in 2010 for its soon-to-be growing small car lineup. Engineered in cooperation with German transmission manufacturer Getrag, PowerShift was first shown on the 2004 Ford Bronco Concept, and introduced to the European public last year as an option for the Ford C-Max and Focus equipped with the 2.0L TCDi diesel (Volvo also has it as an option for its S40/V50 diesels). Now Ford's U.S. production vehicles will finally be given the transmission as an option by the end of the decade.

Ford PowerShift Transmission

Ford PowerShift Transmission

"PowerShift represents a true competitive advantage for Ford and is one of the many technologies that will help our global small-car platforms set a new world standard for efficiency and drive quality," said Barb Samardzich, vice president, Global Powertrain Engineering. "This advanced six-speed is an improvement over today's automatic transmissions in terms of fuel economy, while providing customers an even more fun-to-drive experience."

The dual-clutch gearbox, similar to units from Volkswagen and Mitsubishi, utilizes two clutches and two sets of gears for smoother, faster shifts than are possible from either conventional automatic transmissions or manual gearboxes. Ford's North American PowerShift gearbox is of the dry-clutch type, resulting in greater efficiency than the wet-clutch units filled with oil currently used in Europe (the wet clutch works better with higher torque diesel engines). Ford says that the PowerShift Gearbox not only saves weight, but is also more durable, requires no maintenance, and results in more power and greater fuel efficiency -- up to 9% in some cases by its estimates.

Ford's PowerShift transmission includes a host of innovative features, including a hill mode to aid in easier starts from an incline, as well as creep feature that provides the same feel as a conventional automatic transmission when moving off from a standstill or driving slowly. The clutches also disengage when coasting or braking to increase efficiency and reduce wear on the transmission.

Ford has not specifically mentioned which vehicles will receive the PowerShift transmission when it makes its North American debut next year (the U.S.-bound Fiesta is a good bet to have it). But Dearborn says it is gunning for six-speed transmissions to be standard equipment for virtually its entire lineup by 2013, and you can bet PowerShift will be a big part of the automaker's push to get there.

Below is more on PowerShift's features from Ford's press release:

Neutral coast down - The clutches will disengage when the brakes are applied, improving coasting downshifts and clutch robustness as well as reducing parasitic losses for increased fuel economy.

Precise clutch control in the form of a clutch slip to provide torsional damping of the engine vibration - This function improves noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) at low engine speeds and enables lower lugging limits for improved fuel economy.

Low-speed driving or creep mode with integrated brake pressure - This function simulates the low-speed control drivers are accustomed to from an automatic transmission. The amount of rolling torque in Drive and Reverse is precisely controlled, gradually building as brake pressure is released.

Hill mode or launch assist - Prevents a vehicle from rolling back on a grade by maintaining brake pressure until the engine delivers enough torque to move the vehicle up the hill, providing improved driver confidence, comfort, safety and clutch robustness.

Source: Ford