• Jan 26, 2011
The 2012 Ford Focus is an exciting piece of machinery for a variety of reasons. It puts the Focus on equal footing across the globe, along with being a stylish and well-equipped compact that should be an entertaining steer. On that last bit, Ford is hyping some of the new driver-centric technologies under the Focus' skin, beginning with the PowerShift dry-clutch six-speed automatic with its Torque Hole Filling Technology (THF). What's that? Ford's glad you asked...

When you're driving along in a car equipped with a traditional automatic transmission, you get a momentary lag after an upshift. This is known as the torque hole. Ford wanted to find a way to fill this gap, so with some trick computer modeling and enough math to last a lifetime, the Blue Oval engineers created a system where the engine and transmission talk to each other and prepare for potential torque holes. Additional torque is supplied to fill the hole and the resulting shifts are more seamless to both driver and passengers.

If you want even more geeky details, click past the jump for Ford's complete release.

[Source: Ford]
Show full PR text
Ford blends math, creative thinking, computing power to bring superior shift quality to Focus

2012 Ford Focus, featuring a 2.0-liter direct-injection gasoline engine and Powershift dry-clutch six-speed automatic transmission, incorporates Ford's patented Torque Hole Filling (THF) technology for smoother, more seamless shift quality

THF uses a combination of mathematical modeling and computer-aided engineering tools, along with other enabling transmission technologies to deliver smoother upshifts

Originally penned in 1986, the Ford-developed THF invention disclosure came to fruition as computing power and transmission technologies caught up with the pioneering idea

In internal evaluations, THF improved shift quality ratings by up to 2 points (out of 10) in comparison to baseline shifts with conventional controls

DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 26, 2010 – The 2012 Ford Focus will offer up exceptional shift quality to drivers, powered in part by an inventive Ford transmission technology that has been waiting nearly 25 years for computing power to catch up to make it a reality.

Focus features the Ford Powershift dry-clutch six-speed automatic transmission, one of the first transmissions to benefit from Torque Hole Filling (THF), a Ford-developed and patented concept and methodology conceived a quarter-century ago. THF uses a combination of mathematical algorithms, computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools and transmission control technologies to fill what is commonly known as the torque hole – the slight hesitation drivers may feel during an upshift when there is a momentary drop in transmission torque output followed by a rise in torque.

The torque hole has been inherent to automatic transmissions since the 1940s, said Ford Research Technical Expert Chris Teslak. "Even though much work in controls and calibration has been done over the years, it has remained a major challenge," he added.

To address this challenge, Dr. Davor Hrovat, a Ford Technical Fellow in Controls Research, authored an invention disclosure in the mid '80s on how to coordinate engine and transmission controls to help eliminate the torque hole. Further analytical work and simulation revealed this pioneering concept was promising, but the technology needed to implement it wasn't fully mature yet.

"Although the team has known what was needed to create smoother shifts, the actual implementation had to wait for drive-by-wire technologies, electronic throttle control and processing power to catch up to transform this inventive idea into a reality," said Teslak, who credits THF project technical leaders Yuji Fujii and Eric Tseng, along with other core technical experts/engineers Jahan Asgari, Tom Brown, Chad Griffin, Don Levens and Brad Riedle for helping to bring THF to fruition under Hrovat's guidance.

Enabling technologies such as electronic throttle control and improved actuators and sensors, coupled with the THF methodology, gave the team of Ford engineers the tools needed to precisely sync transmission and engine to transfer and smooth out the torque during a portion of an upshift lasting a fraction of a second. Adding that little extra torque during the shift helps fill the hole, creating a smoother drive experience for the customer.

In internal engineering evaluations using a PowerShift prototype, THF improved shift quality ratings by up to 2 points on a scale of 1 to10 in comparison to baseline shifts with conventional controls.

"THF uses dynamic modeling and proprietary algorithms to command the additional engine torque that's essential for maintaining driver-desired (communicated via the gas pedal) wheel torque in a precise, coordinated way with the clutch control," said Riedle, a Ford technical expert in transmission electronics.

To pre-stage this fraction-of-a-second "conversation" between engine and transmission, a certain degree of finesse, coordination and upfront knowledge of what customers perceive as a quality shift was needed. The technology also required the Ford engineering teams from several disciplines to throw away preconceived notions about conventional engine and shift controls.

In total, the team logged approximately three years or 6,000 man hours of computer-aided mathematical modeling, simulation and analysis of engine speeds, torque and clutch capacity in only 24 months real time to prove the THF concept was production-ready.

"This methodology is the result of persistence, teamwork, creative thinking and a desire to move beyond existing shift dynamics," said Teslak, "THF enables a consistently smooth shift feel with minimum calibration effort and no incremental hardware cost.

"More importantly, it's a portable technology that can be applied across multiple powertrain/transmission powerpacks, giving us the ability to quickly deliver best-in-class shift quality across platforms."

Ford has two U.S. patents covering broad THF applications and several other related patents are pending. Further research on how to most effectively incorporate THF into more conventional planetary gear-based transmissions is ongoing.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 61 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      Interesting, I'd love to drive one to feel the THF technology!
        • 3 Years Ago
        What Ford is doing here is enhancing their driving experience (DNA), so that when you drive a Ford vs. any other car... Ford feels smoother = better quality (perception)!!!

        Think about it this way - after driving this kind of Ford for a while, then drive another car... you will feel the "transmission pause" between shifts and may wonder whats wrong with other cars, Ford doesn't do that!

        Ford - continuing to extend its lead over the competition. When CEO Alan Mulally says they are "relentless" he's not kidding... "Best in Class" in every class!!!
      • 3 Years Ago
      YOUR TURN GM!!!
        • 3 Years Ago
        Their currently working on one with SAIC. (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation)
        • 3 Years Ago
        Does GM have any dual-clutch transmissions, even in Europe?

        I don't know of any.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm going to miss traditional manual transmissions but I look forward to the proliferation of dual clutch units. The advantages are not just for small cars and supercars anymore.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Great! I'll stick with a 5-speed manual. Now put all wheel drive on the RS, offer it in Canada, and I'll buy it!!!

        • 3 Years Ago
        I'll have mine with the 6 speed manual and no awd.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Is this Powershift similar to the one in the Fiesta where the fluid is sealed and good "up to 150,000 miles"? I just want to know what happens after that. Does the transmission need to be replaced?...
        • 3 Years Ago
        Even on "sealed" transmissions without a drain plug, you can always pull the cooler input and return lines (from the radiator), and pump new fluid through the transmission. Or just the return line, let it dump into a bucket, and refill through the dipstick. Not a big deal.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sounds good for those who can't shift for themselves. I'll take the 5 (or 6) speed in the CONVERTIBLE Focus when it arrives.
      • 3 Years Ago
      dan9868..............Ford is just following the Republican example that exaggeration seems to really work with the American people. They'll fall for just about anything.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I guess this counts as a dual clutch without the added clutch, weight and price
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is cool and all but I'll have mine with a manual.......
        • 3 Years Ago
        I beleive Ford is offering a Manual too
        • 3 Years Ago
        I believe Ford is offering a Manual too
      • 3 Years Ago
      ...Huh. My Hyundai has one hell of a "Torque Hole".... Ford, you're on a roll, keep up the hard work!
      • 3 Years Ago
      ...bubble gum that is.
      • 3 Years Ago
      On a side note, I wonder why we're seeing "Sponsored by Lexus" in the title of a Ford post on AB?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Because Autoblog is paid off by Ford to write so many nice articles... er... wait, what?
        • 3 Years Ago
        +1

        Thanks to Lexus for sponsoring this Ford press release!
        • 3 Years Ago
        Ok, so it wasn't just me...
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