With gasoline already more than $4 per gallon in some American cities, the new fuel-saving dual dry-clutch Ford PowerShift six-speed automatic is the right transmission at the right time.
Ford PowerShift – the company’s most sophisticated transmission ever – is part of a suite of advanced fuel-saving technologies available immediately on the Fiesta and the all-new Focus, enabling both cars to deliver as much as 40 mpg on the highway.
“The Ford PowerShift transmission is a technological leap over the competition,” said Piero Aversa, PowerShift engineering manager. “Now that it’s available in the new Focus as well as Fiesta, PowerShift gives us two great small cars that not only lead in fuel economy, but are more fun to drive as well.”
The all-new Focus, available in sedan and five-door bodystyles and featuring a 160-horsepower, direct-injected 2.0-liter engine, is arriving now at Ford dealers across the nation.
More than 95 percent of new-car buyers purchase their vehicles with automatic transmissions, even though many prefer the crisper acceleration, sportier performance and higher fuel economy traditionally offered by manual transmissions. Ford’s PowerShift dual dry-clutch transmission delivers the convenience of an automatic with the fuel efficiency and fun-to-drive sporty feel of a manual gearbox.
PowerShift is part of Ford’s commitment to lead or be among the leaders in fuel economy in every segment in which the company competes. Ford offers six-speed transmissions in nearly its entire North American lineup of Ford and Lincoln brand luxury vehicles. Ford is the only automaker to offer North American vehicle buyers 12 sales segment fuel economy leaders, with four vehicles EPA-certified at 40 mpg or higher.
The PowerShift unit available in Fiesta and Focus models is one of the most advanced transmissions available for subcompact and compact cars. Dual-clutch transmissions, like PowerShift, were born at the racetrack and saw their application for production road cars in ultra-expensive exotics, such as the $1.7 million Bugatti Veyron and $200,000 Ferrari California.
Among competitor vehicles in the Focus segment – Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Jetta, Hyundai Elantra, Chevrolet Cruze and Nissan Sentra – none offers drivers more horsepower, faster acceleration and higher fuel economy with an automatic transmission. Plus, no other car in the Fiesta segment offers a six-speed automatic of any type.
Inside Ford PowerShift
Unlike regular hydraulically operated automatic transmissions, which use power-sapping torque converters, wet clutches and pumps, Ford’s new dual-clutch PowerShift automatic consists of two manual transmissions (in the same case) working in parallel. Each has its own independent clutch unit controlled by computers and fast-acting electromechanical actuators that shift the gears.
One clutch carries the odd gears, 1, 3 and 5, while the other carries the even gears, 2, 4 and 6, and reverse. PowerShift is an automatic because the gear changes are coordinated by a computer that directs the clutches to engage and disengage in a way that provides seamless delivery of torque to the wheels, even during gear changes.
As a result, the driver benefits from a 10 percent fuel economy gain along with the direct and sporty power-to-the-wheels feel and crisp acceleration normally associated with a manual gearbox, but in a transmission that shifts automatically.
Ford PowerShift’s advanced features include:
Torque Hole Fill: A Ford-developed and patented innovation that eliminates the slight hesitation drivers feel during acceleration when the transmission upshifts into a higher gear. PowerShift sends a smooth, seamless stream of torque to the wheels for uninterrupted acceleration
Hill Start Assist: If sensors detect the Fiesta or Focus on a slope of 5 degrees or more, Hill Start Assist automatically prevents the car from rolling backward in the instant when the driver moves his or her foot from the brake to the accelerator. PowerShift’s computer controls the brake pressure and engine to hold the car in place
Neutral idle: This feature helps improve fuel economy by eliminating the drag a traditional hydraulic transmission puts on the engine when a vehicle is idling
Reduced weight: PowerShift weighs nearly 30 pounds less than the four-speed automatic transmission in the 2011 Focus. Less weight helps improve fuel economy
Ford engineers began developing the dual-clutch technology when advances in the speed of processors, memory and the mechanical actuators that shift the gears progressed to the point that a manual transmission could be made to perform as smoothly as an automatic.
“The kind of computing power needed in terms of speed and amount of memory advanced to the point where it is now possible to offer the driver fast, crisp and seamless shifts from this advanced transmission at an affordable price,” said George Herr, PowerShift calibration supervisor.
Since its launch in Fiesta in 2010, Ford engineers have continued to develop and refine PowerShift’s performance and efficiency.
The PowerShift for the all-new Focus, for example, offers several new features including a more compliant clutch damper spring design to reduce noise levels. Aversa said the Focus shift schedule has been optimized for the wider torque band provided by the car’s 160-horsepower, direct-injected 2.0-liter engine.
Also new for Focus is the SelectShift™ Automatic feature. SelectShift allows a driver to change gears – up or down – by simply pressing a button on the shift handle. By pushing the plus sign button, the transmission upshifts. Push the minus sign button and the car downshifts. The PowerShift computer prevents a driver from downshifting too fast and causing damage from over-revving. In the Focus, drivers also can choose Sport Mode, which changes the timing of the shifts for quicker acceleration.