• Nov 9, 2005

Designed in conjunction with Ford's new 3.5L V6 mentioned earlier, the new 6F automatic transmission is the first tangible result of collaboration between General Motors and Ford on six-speed transmissions. The 6F was designed specifically for front-wheel drive applications, as Ford has already introduced a 6R automatic tranny in the redesigned Explorer and Mountaineer for rear-wheel drive applications. In addition to being used with the new 3.5L V6 in the Lincoln Aviator and Ford Edge, a version of the 6F with GM's own unique controls and calibrations will likely be used by that company in the new Saturn Aura, as well. The new six-speed will deliver up to a 7 percent improvement in fuel economy compared with typical four-speed autos, mainly due to its taller final gear. The six gears have a range in ratio of 6.04 from 4.48:1 in first to .74:1 in overdrive. Ford estimates the transmission would save the equivalent of two fill ups at the gas station every year for the average driver.

Read on for more info, pics and the full press release...

Ford 6F six-speed auto

The upper limit of the new 6F will be 300 hp and 280 lb-ft. of torque with shift speeds at 7,000 RPM. There's also a bit of good news for the RV crowd as the new 6F is flat-towable, meaning it can be towed behind a motorhome without incurring damage thanks to an off-axis pump that keeps the internals lubricated.

Ford already has 24 nameplates that are available with a six-speed transmission. The new 6F is the first to be designed and engineered in-house and will grow the number of sex-cogged vehicles by Ford considerably in the coming years. (I totally just made up the word 'sex-cogged', but I think you know what I mean.)

[Source: Ford]

Ford 6F six-speed auto


    * Ford Edge and Lincoln Aviator to debut next year with new class-leading 6F 6-speed transaxle
    * New 6-speed delivers up to 7 percent improvement in highway fuel economy - nearly two tanks of gas a year compared with typical 4-speed automatics
    * Ford Motor Company today is an industry leader in 6-speeds with 24 nameplates offered - and more are on the way

DEARBORN, Mich. Nov. 9, 2005 -With consumers focused on gas prices, the market is demanding more fuel-efficient vehicle technologies. Ford Motor Company's innovative new 6F 6-speed automatic transaxle delivers just that - with up to a 7 percent improvement in highway fuel economy and more refined performance at the same time.

Ford Motor Company today is an industry leader in 6-speed technology with 24 nameplates offered - and more coming next year, including two new crossover utility vehicles (CUVs).

"Ford Motor Company will pace the industry in advanced transaxles, which provide increased performance and increased fuel economy," says Barb Samardzich, Ford vice president of Powertrain Operations. "With the introduction of the Ford Edge and Lincoln Aviator crossovers next year, our 6-speed leadership continues, and we have more on the way." The new 6F was developed to cover a wide range of vehicle applications. It initially will be teamed with the new 3.5-liter V-6 in the Ford Edge and Lincoln Aviator CUVs. The transaxle also is designed to handle up to 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque with shift speeds up to 7,000 rpm.

The enhanced performance and fuel economy of the 6F comes from a wide span of 6.04 between the transaxle's lowest and highest gear ratio. The high ratio span helps deliver improved fuel economy and improved acceleration compared with a typical 4-speed automatic.

"Not only do the smaller ratio step sizes of a 6-speed transaxle allow for better powertrain efficiency, but they enable smoother shifts as well," says Ram Krishnaswami, manager 6F Transaxle Systems, Automatic Transmission Engineering.

The new 6F front-drive 6-speed delivers on the two most important attributes that today's consumers look for in a vehicle: fuel economy and maximum performance.

These characteristics are delivered by a low 4.48 gear for satisfying acceleration at launch and a tall, 0.74 overdrive for exceptional fuel economy. Short steps between intermediate gears enhance performance and feel by finding the right gear for the most efficient operating conditions. The smooth shifts reduce harshness and reduce overall NVH.

Development of the new 6F transaxle is the result of a collaborative effort between Ford and General Motors. Co-development of the transaxle resulted in a common approach to design and manufacturing engineering. Despite using common suppliers for a majority of parts to leverage economies of scale, both companies are utilizing unique controls and calibrations to tailor the shift feel of the transaxle to fit their brand characteristics.

Improved NVH and Refinement
The elimination of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) was a particular target for the development team. Extensive use of CAE modeling on the transaxle case built a solid housing for the transaxle components.

Engineers used computer-aided analysis to determine exactly where strengthening ribs needed to be added to the casing to minimize radiated noise and vibration. CAE modeling also was used to add thickness to the case in appropriate areas for added strength.

In addition, the transaxle's three simple planetary gear sets are designed for robustness and use low-pinion pitch line velocities to reduce noise. All gears are cut using high-precision CNC hobbing, grinding and honing machines. The transfer and final drive gears are hard-treated for strength, and subsequently ground and honed to provide a more precise fit, thus reducing gear whine.

The 6F also features the first use of an off-axis pump for Ford. This package-enabler takes up much less space in the transaxle. Package efficiency is further enabled by the pump's chain drive. The pump porting also was optimized to improve NVH.

The 6F uses only plate clutches for each shift to deliver quiet, smooth shifts throughout the entire ratio span. In addition, the 6F uses a Ford proprietary control strategy that uses powerful adaptive algorithms. The 6F provides fast, responsive shifts throughout the operating range that are smooth yet crisp, which delivers an invigorating driving experience to the customer.

Factory Tested for Quality
To ensure the best possible shift quality, each 6F transaxle is bench tested at Ford's Van Dyke (Mich.) Transaxle Plant. There, the transaxle build quality is verified, detecting even minute variations in the manufacturing process.
Using a unique patent pending process, software programmed into the 6F's electronic controller individually trims and characterizes all solenoids and clutches to eliminate the variances that would normally lead to changes in shift feel, producing smooth, precisely controlled shifts that improve durability and customer satisfaction.
6F SPECS
TRANSMISSION
Type     6-Speed Automatic
Gear Ratios    
  1st     4.484:1
  2nd     2.872:1
  3rd     1.842:1
  4th     1.414:1
  5th     1.000:1
  6th     0.742:1
  REV     00034





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  • 17 Comments
      • 9 Years Ago
      Huh. Will be interesting to see it compared to the established six-speed automatics in vehicles already on the road. Who's the current benchmark for six-speed autos?
      • 9 Years Ago
      Now how about design some nice manual transmissions for those of us that still prefer a real transmission over the slush boxes.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Funny that over-revving should be mentioned. I had a Ford Taurus on rental about a month ago. I fully expected it to be as dismal as other Taurii I have had in the past, but I was pleasantly surprised. The transmission always seemed to be in the proper gear for a given situation, downshifts were both smooth, and to the right gear. None of the scream-its-guts-out-then-find the-right gear nonsense. The icing on the cake was the 32.8 mpg I got running from Bangor to Philly. That is what both the computer and my calculator had to say. But it was obviously no good: it wasn't a NiSuToyBishiDaZda or a SaaBenzAuVoGen.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Along with the engine, this is a great showing; Ford has reached powertrain parity. As long as it lasts longer than Ford's 20th century automatics. But really, is an automatic transmission such a challenge to design that they had to collaborate with the enemy?
      • 9 Years Ago
      > By the way, where's the output shaft on that transmission? As a FWD tranny, it doesn't really have a driveshaft; rather two halfshafts. The left side of the first photo shows the spline where the longer halfshaft (i.e., passenger side in the US) is inserted. The shorter, driver's side halfshaft will be mounted using a similar spline, on the opposite side of the casting. Confusingly, the halfshaft spline in the second photo is covered and painted to appear as part of the casting. This is one of the problems with using display models for technical detail. Neither halfshaft mounting location is visible in the third photo. Hmmm - I dont' see anything on this transmission to support AWD applications. I presume there are plans for an AWD version of the 6F. Careful FWD transmission design can have unexpected benefits: I once owned a 70's vintage mid-engine Fiat X1/9, which shared basic drivetrain components with the FWD Fiat 128. The FWD engine and tranny moved nicely to the middle of the X1/9, in part because the transmission shift linkage was designed around a sliding, rotating rod that could be actuated from either in front of or behind the transmission.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I don't think it's a design challenge as much as it is a cost savings. With both GM and Ford using the same suppliers, there are significant economies of scale. Combine that with the engineering costs savings and it adds up pretty quickly. I'm not sure what Ford brought to the table, but leveraging the automatic transmission design knowledge of GM is a smart move.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Guys, down here in Australia, Ford & GM Holden produce 6 seat sedans & wagons with RWD ONLY. They are market leaders over the FWD Japanese range. Some time ago when I worked at Ford we looked at the Tauraus, even importing Tauraus Ghia & selling it in direct competition with the Ford Falcon & it was no competition at all. Costs were way out, styling was not accepted at all& it was considered too small.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Sweet Jebus! I was drinking my coffee when I came to that part about sex-cogs and nearly shot liquid hot magma out of my nose! Oh, yeah and well done Ford. :)
      • 9 Years Ago
      i could make some crappy comment about why it took so long but I will take the high road and say, "well done".
      • 9 Years Ago
      "what's the point of a rwd car if majority of folks are buying camrys and accords?" Because you can still make money selling things that the minority wants? Isn't that obvious? As a buyer, the majority's predilections are irrelevant to me. I want what I want, and the producer who can give it to me at an attractive price will get my money. The others won't. Very simple. By the way, where's the output shaft on that transmission?
      • 9 Years Ago
      I realize they need this to update their aging tranny's but FWD with a 300hp limit? This after years of R&D? It is compact but overall unimpressed unless they can quickly scale it to RWD. Does it still have a tourque converter?
      • 9 Years Ago
      I have a 5 speed in a CRV, and it is incredible on the freeway and climbing mountains. Moves to the right gear, no drama with over-revving. That's the big advantage of having even one extra gear compared to a 4 speed automatic, where you are either not getting the acceleration, or dropping down to third (or even second!) with a horrible roar of the engine. The bad news is, Honda automatics have a bad reliability record, and first gear is a mess - the sloppiest shift ever from first to second - despite my complaints the Honda service dept. says it is normal. The 4 speed automatic in my Dodge Neon (2004) was MUCH smoother and crisper. And performed pretty decently for only 4 speeds. SO - a good old reliable 4 speed Hydramatic from Chevy, or a sparkling new, cutting edge transmission from Ford/Chevy? (I'd be sure to get an extended warranty until the repair record is established, and change the fluid as often as the dealers - who notoriously overservice coolant and auto transmission fluid - recommend.)
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