• Mar 18th 2011 at 2:11PM
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Ford says that its six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission, which debuted on the 2010 Fiesta, can slash fuel consumption by nearly 10 percent compared to a traditional four-speed slushbox. The improvement in efficiency, according to Ford, is due to the tranny's weight loss and by maximizing the range of gears.

In place of a torque converter, the PowerShift trans utilizes a pair of dry clutches linked to an electromechanically shifted manual transmission. This setup is similar to the dual-clutch transmissions found in many high-performance cars and results in a slushbox that's 30 pounds lighter than Ford's four-speed auto.

Last month, the 2012 Ford Focus, equipped with this six-speed trans, was officially rated at 40 miles per gallon highway and 28 mpg city by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With the Focus hitting the 40-mpg mark, it joins the Fiesta SE with SFE package, Fusion Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid on Ford's "Four in the Forties" list.

[Source: Ford]
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Efficient Ford Six-Speed PowerShift Automatic Cuts Fuel Use By Up To 10 Percent, Helps Fiesta, Focus Get 40 MPG

* New Ford PowerShift transmission blends the sporty feel of a manual transmission with the convenience of an automatic
* Ford PowerShift is one of the most advanced transmissions available for subcompact and compact cars like the new Ford Focus and Fiesta
* PowerShift weighs nearly 30 pounds less than the four-speed automatic transmission in the current 2011 Focus. Less weight helps improve fuel economy

Fuel Efficiency Leadership

DEARBORN, Mich., March 14, 2011 – 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.

Ford engineers also worked to improve low-speed responsiveness and smoothness in response to customer feedback. "We believe there isn't a more efficient automatic transmission available anywhere," said Aversa.

The PowerShift transmission is offered in Ford vehicles sold around the world.

# # #

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 164,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit www.ford.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      So would a manual that does not buzz the engine along at 3000 rpm at 60 mph. As if you need to be in the peak torque or HP curve while cruising along the freeway.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Don't take too much notice of the precise figures as they are for the UK with a different size gallon and test cycle to the US, but for instance for the Ford Fiesta Duratec 1.4 the combined fuel economy is given as 48.7mpg, which for the same model in an auto goes down to 41.8mpg, whilst 0-60 goes up from 12.2 ceconds to 13.9 and top speed down from 109mph to 103mph
        • 4 Years Ago
        Wow, 10% is a lot. I didn't know transmissions accounted for such high friction losses.
        • 4 Years Ago
        No kidding.

        I'll take the 5/6 speed stick no matter what..
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hi 2WM,
        I've never driven an automatic but am considering one. In city traffic as you get older it gets more of a hassle to change gear. Even the best ones like VW's DSG still hit fuel economy though.
        Only a few makers like Hyundai do auto gear boxes on their diesels, which is what I would really like.
      • 4 Years Ago
      More cost, more complexity. Go for a real manual shift. Simple.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "More cost, more complexity." - YESS !!

        But GO! for *Electric Motors* - they don't need such crutches and fixes and patches ! ! !

      • 4 Years Ago
      "and results in a slushbox that's 30 pounds lighter than Ford's four-speed auto"

      This is a DCT or Dual CLUTCH Transmission. The clutch is the key, and this has 2! DCTs have no fluid torque converters, and therfore should never bear the slur, "Slush Box." They really shouldn't even be called automatic transmissions, which as far as I am concerned, is a four letter phrase. They should be called DCTs, or if the manufacturer is short sighted enough not to include paddle shifters, call it a DCAT.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If it has a parking pawl, then it is an automatic.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If it automatically changes gears for you, it is an automatic.
      • 4 Years Ago
      a paice style transmission (prius) would save much more.
      and plugin even more. no merit to this
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm not sure, either. I don't know if CVT and related transmissions are limited by fundamentals, or just by design choices made by the automakers to include them in vehicles that don't tow anything.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm not sure it has to be true that the paice drive has to be weak but I agree that series hybrid is good.
        not a huge fan of the volt layout though. that's a prius drive with a few more clutches. not really a series hybrid.
        • 4 Years Ago
        A Volt-like plug-in, yes. The electric motor and single-speed gearbox is a known, highly robust system (look at electric and diesel locomotives, for example).

        I disagree regarding the powersplit designs and CVTs. They are very efficient, yes; however, they don't have the power. No hybrid with those designs can tow anything. It's just flat out not recommended by the automakers. Advancing this "powershift" technology is advantageous for implementing in larger vehicles that have greater mechanical strains than the Prius or the Escape hybrid.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Well that's a decieving headline if I ever saw one ...

      Transmission efficiency loss is usually estimated roughly in the 10% region.

      The "slashing of fuel consumption by 10%" , must no doubt be

      * in a comparision with an antique automatic transmission * - i.e. 10% less efficiency loss

      (than the 10% loss those last-century-gearboxes contributed .. )

      Oh well, just another sales-persons phrasing , NO DOUBT.

      . . .

      @"Time to Think" : SPOT ON !!! :) *thumbsup*
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, it's also the fact that it's dry. The electromagnetic actuators are far more efficient than a constantly-running pump to keep transmission fluid up to operating pressure.

        In traditional designs, the transmission fluid, brakes, power steering and A/C all operate off the serpentine belt so that the higher the engine revs, the more effort is being lost to pump fluids more than needed. And, of course, the increase in speed is proportional to the velocity squared, so the more you pump fluids as the car goes faster, then exponentially more energy is being lost in pumping these fluids that don't need to go that fast to perform safely and accurately.

        Through hybrid development, automakers have recognized that, even for regular vehicles, converting these fixed systems to optimized electric motors rather than off the engine belt saves anywhere from 4% to 10% or more in mpg without sacrificing safety or performance.

        Ford has realized significant fuel savings by making all of these things electric - any more, pretty much the only thing the gas engine is running is the alternator and the wheels.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Slashing fuel consumption by 10% does not mean that the transmission is any more efficient. The fuel saving could all come from additional gearing allowing the engine to run more efficiently, but likely the there is less tranny loss too.
        • 4 Years Ago
        P.S. How much is 10% of 10% ?
        • 4 Years Ago
        There's more to it than just the efficiency of the transmission itself. How closely the transmission can get the engine to the most efficient operating speed for a given requested power output is a very significant factor, and the more speeds the transmission has and the closer those ratios are in the most common operating regimes, the better it is able to do this. CVT's are ideal from that point of view ... but they have poorer mechanical efficiency.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "compared to a traditional four-speed slushbox"

      Does anyone still make four-speed autos? What's next, comparing direct-injection to a flat-head engine?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Toyota seems to be a fan. 4-speed autos available on:
        Toyota Corolla
        Toyota Matrix
        Toyota Yaris
        Toyota Tacoma
        Toyota 4Runner
        Toyota RAV4
        • 4 Years Ago
        How about the 2011 Toyota Yaris, its automatic is a 4 speed. Actually there are still a number of 4 speed automatics being sold in current model cars. Ford's comparison was likely due to the outgoing model, even if it was not sold in Ford's home market.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The 4-speed auto tranny is in the outgoing Focus, so it's a fair comparison. And, Toyota Corollas have 4-speed autos, too - so they'll still be in use in the same market segment.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Let's not forget these too:
        Hyundai Accent
        Kia Rio
        Kia Rondo
        Kia Soul
        Mazda 2
        Mitsubishi Eclipse
        Mitsubishi Galant
        Mitsubishi Endeavor
        Scion xB
        Scion xD
        Subaru Impreza
        Subaru Forester
        Suzuki Swift
        Suzuki Grand Vitara

        All are available with 4-speed transmissions. I'm sure there are others, but I got tired of looking. They're a lot more common than you think. Auto companies like to advertise their six speed transmissions. They don't advertise the four speed transmissions.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is good news, but this is so 20th century. The complexity and R&D into trannys provides such a stark and painfully obvious contrast to the single-speed fixed gearbox that EVs use. Such elegant simplicity, allowing resources to be devoted to the only limiting factor: battery tech.
        • 4 Years Ago
        From what I read, the idea of a two or more speed gearbox for the Roadster was in the interest of making EVs more accessible to people. Once Elon Musk became CEO, Tesla went straight to the single-speed gearbox.

        The torque curve is so broad and so high for electric motors that it simply isn't necessary.

        The only way a second speed would make the Roadster, or any EV any better, is for higher acceleration at very-high-speeds. However, within any legal speed limit in the US, it's irrelevant. The torque, at least for Tesla's designs, drops off gradually after 5k rpm and doesn't become significant until rpms corresponding to well over 70 mph.

        Multi-speed gearboxes for well-designed EVs simply aren't needed, unless you are going to enter racing sports.

        And, regular cars still have differentials, etc., so what's your point?
        • 4 Years Ago

        Interesting point. I was not aware of the dependence of efficiency on rpm. Sounds reasonable to me.

        It would be interesting to see all three curves on the same graph. From what I recall, Tesla only provides torque and hp curves. The chief engineer has an extensive blog post on Roadster efficiency and range, dated from December 2008; however, I don't recall any plots of efficiency as a function of rpm. I'll have to go back and look.

        Thanks for the clarification.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Volt and the Prius adress the high rpm efficiency drop by using 2 motors that connect in a parallel power arrangement through a planetary gearset. When the 2nd motor engages at higher vehicle speed, the 1st motor can run at a lower rpm.

        People mostly talk about torque curves, but I don't think that is as important as the mathematical integral of this curve: the power curve. Many electrics motors have a flat torque curve (to a point of drop off) and they are in the company of many internal combustions engines like diesels and direct injected turbos. The power curve, however, is more telling, because it shows at what rpm the maximum power peaks. Every motor and engine has a peak on it's power curve. For maximum performance, a multiple ratio transmission allows the motor to be at or near that peak at different vehicle speeds.

        The efficiency curve is the reason why the GM engineers engage the engine at higher speeds; to get the motor out of the efficiency robbing high rpms. Efficiency curves are harder to analyze because you are not likely to be most interested in the curve that represents highest output, but rather part load. Basically, what you want is a series of graphs that represent the motors efficiency across the rpm range. You could then plot the rpm at which the efficiency peaks as a function of the power output. A good automatic transmission or manual transmission driver will follow this curve as close as possible.

        In general, power curves and efficiency curves seem to be a bit flatter with electric motors than their internal combustion counterparts, so less ratios are probably needed. I see no reason for 9 speed transmissions, but maybe 2 or 3 speeds would be good. For the first 50 or so years of the auto, inefficient 2 speed planetary or "slushomatics" were very common (partly due to large, high torque engines and low speed limits.) After 2 speeds died, it took a while for 3 speeds to become obsolete.
        • 4 Years Ago

        I stand corrected on the 1 speed then. No worries on worries about the time spent on auto trannies though. I'm sure hundreds of years in the future, work on electric batteries will seem like it was all for nothing, as we harness and store energy in ways we can't currently concieve.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If resources are finite and and if it bothers you that time and energy was devoted to something that hundreds of millions of people get use out of every day, how much does it bother you when hollywood movies take $100 million to make?

        Also, what's to say that there won't be people with the will to put in lots of time and effort and develop multi-speed trannies for EVs? The reason they're only 1 speed is they haven't been developed enough to properly handle the torque differences of an electric motor.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I hope so. Shame we won't live to see it. Would be exciting. I guess we're stuck with Star Trek reruns. ;-)
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's just an observation - it can't be helped.

        EVs have a single-speed gearbox because they don't NEED mutliple gears. The torque curve renders such points moot.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually, I did know about that. It took me a minute, but as I was typing that last reply, I began to remember.

        I remember seeing such curves on Azure Dynamics' website. They provide curves for their electric motors that show torque, hp and efficiency, all as a function of rpm. If I remember correctly, you are right, the efficiency is highest at the low to mid rpms, and falls off somewhat at higher rpms.

        I just don't know what Tesla's efficiency curves look like. Check their website. The best bet would be J.B.Straubel's post from 2008.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "EVs have a single-speed gearbox because they don't NEED mutliple gears. The torque curve renders such points moot."

        Electric motors have varying torque curves, but what is more important is the power curve. Like an internal combustion engine, electric motors have a peak along the power curve wher e the highest power is reached. The rest of the power curve is closer to the peak than the curve of most ICE engines, and the curve goes all the way down to 0 rpm, which is why electric motors can more easily be used without a transmission. There is also an efficiency curve which shows a peak. Motors aren't very efficient at high rpms. It is therefore incorrect to say that an electric motor could not benefit from multiple ratios, albeit, less ratios would be needed. The Tesla roadster was originally equipped with a 2 speed transmission which was abandoned not because it was a bad idea, but because it was poorly designed and would fail under the high torque. The Eliica comes in two versions, one optimized for acceleration, and another for top speed. I believe that the difference essentially comes down to ratios.
        • 4 Years Ago
        single speed trannys for EVs

        Yes, can work. But, even Tesla knew they'd have better performance, range, and efficiency with a 2-speed tranny for their hi-rev motor in the Roadster.

        Wasted well over a year and lots of $ with in-house development, then went to an outside company that also failed.
        Then, finally threw up their hands and accepted a single speed developed by Borg Warner. Not proprietary - BW will gladly sell it to Coda or whoever.

        Note: even their single speed gearbox has a double reduction (4 super hi-quality helical gears), and a differential.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Just another OEM doing it's best to keep us addicted to oil and keep those ICE revenue streams in maintenance and parts coming in. All most can do is cheer them on with their little innovations to the extremely wasteful ICE drive train. OEM's do some good brainwashing, yes they do.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Everyone is impatient for the further development and acceptance of EV's.

        But there is still a continuing demand for ICE vehicles. Especially larger vehicles. This demand will continue for as long as EV's can't match all the attributes of all existing vehicles.

        The OEM's are still obliged to produce the best ICE technology they can even as the EV begins to develop into a viable replacement.

        I think it's unfair to label every ICE fuel saving technology as a determination to keep us "addicted to oil" and spare parts!

        True Ev's and Hybrids are showing rapid advances, but these ICE technologies are important too during this changeover period.

        Ultimately, ICE technology will be render the ICE obsolete, but until then such advancements are good news.
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