In a further effort to increase fuel economy, Ford will launch a new PowerShift dual-clutch gearbox in its upcoming small cars. The fresh six-speed transmission will weigh 30 pounds less than the four-speed automatic in the current Ford Focus and could increase fuel economy by as much as nine percent.
If this strategy sounds familiar, that's because it is. VW has been putting its DSG dual-clutch transmissions in its small cars for years. In Europe, Ford offers a PowerShift transmission option for the Focus. However, this new transmission uses a dry-clutch like a conventional manual transmission, whereas the other two use a wet-clutch. The added benefit of the dry-clutch is durability and efficiency, since it doesn't require either an oil pump or torque converter.
To ensure drivers reap only the benefits of the new dual-clutch gearbox, Ford attempted to take care of the drawbacks of a manual transmission. PowerShift equipped vehicles will feature a hill mode (aka launch assist) that will apply the brakes to prevent the vehicle from rolling back on a grade. There is also a creep mode to simulate the low speed control of an automatic by limiting the amount of torque in either reverse or drive based on the brake pressure. Finally, when stopping, the clutch will disengage to improve coasting downshifts and reduce parasitic losses to improve fuel economy.
The PowerShift transmission could be first offered on the 2010 Fiesta and it will likely be offered on the next generation Focus as well. Ford says that almost all of its transmissions will be "advanced" six-speed gearboxes by 2013.