Ford to Join the Dual Clutch Club
As engines get more and more efficient, other ways of improving fuel mileage and performance are needed. One of the most promising of these new technologies is the dual-clutch transmission, and it seems as though Ford is planning on putting their own version of the dual-clutch into not only the performance vehicles, but all of them.
The new transmission line, called Powershift, is aimed at both the eco friendly consumer as well as the driving enthusiast. By using a dual-clutch setup, as opposed to a single-clutch system, power can be more efficiently and more smoothly transferred to the ground, all while lowering the average engine speed. The result is a more fluid shift between gears and a noticeable increase in miles per gallon. While the exact gain will vary, depending on your driving habits, the average gain is about 9%. The new transmission also weighs about 30lbs less than the current 4-speed automatic that is being used.
Ford was also able to give the new automatic transmission a "coast" mode that will allow the vehicle the roll along as if in neutral. This is something that manual owners can enjoy, but for most automatics is out of reach. Another interesting new feature is the an electronically controlled braking system that will detect when you are on a hill and engage the brakes so you can start moving without worrying about the brakes. The need for this comes from Ford engineers making the transmission mimic a manual when on hills or steep inclines.
On the other side of the spectrum, the extra gears will offer e more aggressive acceleration and help to keep the engine inside its power band. In doing so, 0 to 60mph times should be reduced, when compared to a 4 or 5 speed automatic, as well as quarter mile times. The two clutches will ensure shifts happen quickly and precisely, and they will also be in charge of getting as much torque as possible to the ground.
Several versions of the new transmission are already being designed, with the first being used in the small to mid-sized car markets and gradually moving into the larger cars and SUVs.
Ford is planning to have a 6-speed transmission in every vehicle by 2013, with the first available units hitting the showroom floor as early as 2010. While the exact details of which vehicles will be getting the new transmission have not yet been released, one of the most likely candidates is the new Taurus. That, combined with the recently confirmed V6 EcoBoost engine should provide an amazing driving experience.