Friday, April 30, 2010

Manual Versus Automatic Transmissions

We noticed that more than a few of the ideas in our new Your Ideas section regarding transmission technology and the availability of various transmission types. We thought it might be helpful to share what Ford is doing right now with transmission technology and the results that customers can expect. We also posted a new poll where you can register your transmission preference.
For those asking for a dual-clutch transmission, it’s on the way. The Ford PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission will be available in the 2011 Ford Fiesta. This new dual-clutch automatic – the first six-speed transmission in the segment – will help the Fiesta to deliver an expected best-in-class fuel economy rating with the convenience of fully automatic shifting. The dual dry-clutch PowerShift automatic transmission is based on efficient manual transmission technology, eliminating the additional weight and complexity of a torque converter, planetary gears and the fluid pumps employed in traditional automatics. Electronically controlled, twin internal clutches shift gears quickly and smoothly, providing a seamless flow of torque with the refinement and ease customers expect from a premium automatic transmission.
The Fiesta is the second new Ford vehicle to deliver better fuel economy using an automatic transmission rather than a manual. The new six-speed automatic in the 2011 Mustang Coupe betters the highway fuel economy of the standard six-speed manual by 2 mpg. Traditionally, manual transmissions have delivered higher fuel economy. But Ford’s latest automatic transmission advancements have reversed the decades-old scenario, using advanced technology to provide customers with exceptional efficiency and the convenience of an automatic transmission. Mustang drivers who prefer a manual gearbox will enjoy the short throws and direct feel of the shifter along with the relaxed cruising permitted by the extra top gear ratio.
With an array of new automatic transmission technologies, Ford is out to challenge the status quo by delivering segment-leading fuel economy without compromise to convenience, and accessibility to a much broader segment of the driving public. Fewer drivers possess stick-shift skills, as manual transmission market acceptance continues to drop, falling 22 percent over the last decade.
“Ford’s advanced new six-speed automatic transmissions will really surprise our customers, and our competitors,” said Barb Samardzich, vice president of Powertrain Development. “They provide the convenience of traditional automatics with fuel economy leadership, as well as responsive performance and driving dynamics that make these cars fun to drive. And we’re adding six-speed transmissions to our most accessible vehicles, not just our luxury offerings and high-performance models.”
For 2011, Super Duty also features an all-new transmission. The 6R140 heavy-duty TorqShift six-speed automatic transmission was designed to manage the high levels of low-end torque produced by the new diesel engine. The same basic transmission is also mated to the new gasoline engine, giving customers of either engine the ability to efficiently get the increased torque and horsepower to the ground. In addition to hardware-based improvements, the new transmission features enhanced Tow Haul mode with integrated engine exhaust braking and SelectShift Automatic capability, which includes Progressive Range Select and a manual mode, allowing customers to select the gear to suit their needs.
Ford is committed to six-speed transmissions, with availability across 85 percent of its nameplates for 2010. By 2013, these fuel-saving, performance-enhancing six-speed transmissions will be offered in 100 percent of Ford vehicles.

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