PowerShift: A manual transmission that is actually an automatic
Ford is talking about its new 6-speed PowerShift automatic transmission that has help to reduce the fuel consumption in its Focus by up to 10% allowing the car to get a rating of 40mpg. The PowerShift is the most sophisticated transmission that Ford has ever offered and uses a dual dry-clutch setup like a manual, but is an automatic transmission.
"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 Focus offers the transmission in both sedan and 5-door styles and it is coupled to the 160hp 2L engine. Ford notes that more than 95% of new car buyers opt for automatic transmissions though they might prefer the crisper acceleration and sporty feel of a manual. The PowerShift allows the driver to get the convenience of an auto with the sport feel of a manual.
The PowerShift transmission doesn't use a torque convertor and wet clutches that need pumps. The dual-clutch PowerShift has two manual transmissions working in parallel each with its own independent clutch unit that is computer controlled. The transmission uses electronic actuators to actually shift the gears. One clutch works the odd gears and the other works even gears and reverse.
The PowerShift is an automatic because the gear changes are controlled by a computer that tells the clutch when to engage and disengage. The transmission has a cool feature called Torque Hole Fill that eliminates the hesitation typically felt when a driver pushes the pedal and the normal auto transmission has to shift down. It also has a Hill Start Assist that keeps the car from rolling backwards on a hill that is 5-degrees or more of an incline. It will also idle in neutral at a stop to eliminate drag. The transmission also weight nearly 30 pounds less than the automatic used in last year's focus.