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...
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.)
* 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.
Type 6-Speed Automatic