The new Ford Fiesta will be the first product from any of the Detroit automakers to have a dual clutch transmission – and production is starting today. The Ford PowerShift gearboxes are being built at the Getrag Americas joint venture factory in Irapuato, Mexico. At launch, the plant is employing 200 people, a number that will double later this year when the plant also starts building the same transmissions for the 2012 Focus.
A dual clutch transmission can almost be thought of as two traditional manual transmissions, each with its own clutch operating in parallel and alternating shifts. The Ford unit is a six-speed with one clutch acting on gears 1,3 and 5 and the other used for 2, 4 and 6. As first gear is engaged, the 2-4-6 clutch is disengaged and the second gear cogs are engaged. At the appropriate time, the 1-3-5 clutch is disengaged the other is engaged. While in second gear, the other side moves from first to third. The process is repeated with quick smooth shifts and none of the of the efficiency loss normally associated with torque converters. The Ford gearbox uses dry clutches which are more efficient than the wet clutches previously used in some earlier Volkswagen DSG gearboxes.
The 1.6-liter Fiesta with PowerShift transmission is expected to get an EPA highway rating of at least 40 miles per gallon. The new Focus will use a 2.0-liter direct injected four with the PowerShift and may also approach 40 mpg.