Ford PowerShift Transmission

2012 Focus Hatchback

2011 Fiesta Sedan
PowerShift is aimed at small vehicles like Focus

The U.S. government is getting more and more strict on vehicle fuel economy and it expects the major automakers to new regulations across their entire vehicle range. As fuel economy standards become more strict, the automakers are looking to new technologies to help improve fuel efficiency without sacrificing the performance that drivers expect from their machines.

Ford has already announced that one of the ways that it will seek to improve fuel economy is by moving to six-speed transmission across its entire fleet in the coming years. A perfect example of how Ford is using a six-speed automatic transmission to improve fuel economy is the 2011 Ford Mustang. Both the base level V6 and V8 GT models will get new six-speed transmissions in automatic and manual versions. The automatic six-speed provides better fuel economy that the manual transmission.

Ford has offered more details on a future automatic transmission that will find its way into the 2011 Ford Fiesta that was previewed in December 2009. The new transmission will also serve duty in the 2012 Ford Focus as well. The new transmission is called the PowerShift dual-clutch automatic and will help the Fiesta deliver up to 40 mpg on the highway with fully automatic shifting. The transmission is being built for Ford by Getrag Americas in Mexico. The plant that is building the new transmissions was built specifically for Ford and currently employs 200 workers with that number expected to double as production increases.

"We believe this new automatic transmission for the Fiesta will be the most advanced in the segment, offering far better performance than our competitors," said Piero Aversa, team leader for PowerShift development. "It's an advanced gearbox that reduces complexity, saves weight, increases responsiveness and performance – all while helping keep the engine in its peak efficiency mode – resulting in class-leading fuel economy."

The PowerShift transmission is based on manual transmission technology and eliminates the need for a torque converter, planetary gears, and fluid pumps found in typical automatic transmissions. The PowerShift uses a dual dry sump clutch system. The PowerShift has two clutches with one clutch working first, third, and fifth gears with the other clutch working second, fourth, and sixth gears. 

As gears shift, each clutch alternately shifts the gears as the other clutch is disengaged. Ford states that the design of the transmission is particularly well suited to small cars like the Fiesta and Focus.

"A dual dry-clutch transmission provides some real dividends on small car applications," said Aversa. "PowerShift with dry-clutch facings and new energy-saving electromechanical actuation for clutches and gear shifts saves weight, improves efficiency, increases smoothness, adds durability and is sealed with low-friction gear lubricant for the life of the vehicle. This transmission requires no regular maintenance."

Ford still states that it expects to offer six-speed transmissions across 85% of its vehicles for 2010 and by 2013, its entire range of vehicles will offer six-speed transmissions.

"Ford's advanced new six-speed automatic transmissions will really surprise our customers, and our competitors," said Barb Samardzich, vice president of Powertrain Development. "They provide the convenience of traditional automatics with fuel economy leadership, as well as responsive performance and driving dynamics that make these cars fun to drive. And we're adding six-speed transmissions to our most accessible vehicles, not just our luxury offerings and high-performance models."

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