Alongside the new 2.0 liter EcoBoost engine, Ford also unveiled plans to begin producing a new 6-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. The new gearbox has been named Powershift and should be able to help Ford reach the proposed 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
What stands out about the Powershift transmission is the use of a dry clutch system, rather than the more widely used wet clutch configuration. Traditional wet-clutch assemblies require the clutch plates to be submerged in oil, which adds to the complexity of the overall system and also requires periodic maintenance. The dry clutch assembly will be housed in a sealed unit, therefore requiring no maintenance, and also eliminates the need for a torque converter and oil pump.
"A dry clutch is a real sweet spot for lighter vehicle applications," says Piero Aversa, Ford's Automatic Transmission Engineering lead. "Powershift is more efficient, it saves weight, is more durable and the unit is sealed for life, requiring no regular maintenance."
By reducing the number mechanical parts, Ford has also been able to extend the life of the gearbox as well as increase the strength of the still necessary components. In case all of this isn't enough, the new 6-speed automatic will also weight about 30lbs less than the current 4-speed automatic.
The new transmission will also feature a Neutral Coasting system that disengages the clutches when the brakes are pressed. Designed primarily for use when going down hills and coming to stop lights, the system will increase the life of the clutches and improve fuel economy.
The Powershift transmission also features a launch assist function that will make sure you don't coast after releasing the brakes while on an incline. The system will maintain brake line pressure until enough torque is applied to the wheels to overcome the force of gravity and then gradually release. While this is rarely an issue in automatics, the extra piece of mind can't hurt.
Along with being a step towards reducing fuel consumption, the new transmission will also be the first dual clutch system to be produced by an American automaker. This, coupled with the EcoBoost lineup, could easily propel Ford to the top of many new car buyers lists.
Ford Media , 2010 Model Year Drive Event