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6-Speed PowerShift automatic in Fiesta, Focus delivers a 10% fuel economy gain

The new dual dry-clutch Ford PowerShift six-speed automatic available in the Focus and Fiesta enables a 10% fuel economy gain compared to a four-speed automatic transmission, contributing to both cars delivering as much as 40 mpg on the highway. The PowerShift automatic consists of two manual transmissions (in the same case) working in parallel. Each has its own independent clutch unit controlled by computers and fast-acting electromechanical actuators that shift the gears.

One clutch carries the odd gears, 1, 3 and 5, while the other carries the even gears, 2, 4 and 6, and reverse. PowerShift is an automatic because the gear changes are coordinated by a computer that directs the clutches to engage and disengage in a way that provides seamless delivery of torque to the wheels, even during gear changes. Ford PowerShift’s features include:

  • Torque Hole Fill: A Ford-developed and patented innovation that eliminates the slight hesitation drivers feel during acceleration when the transmission upshifts into a higher gear.

  • Hill Start Assist: If sensors detect the Fiesta or Focus on a slope of 5 degrees or more, Hill Start Assist automatically prevents the car from rolling backward in the instant when the driver moves his or her foot from the brake to the accelerator. PowerShift’s computer controls the brake pressure and engine to hold the car in place.

  • Neutral idle: This feature helps improve fuel economy by eliminating the drag a traditional hydraulic transmission puts on the engine when a vehicle is idling.

  • Reduced weight: PowerShift weighs nearly 30 pounds less than the four-speed automatic transmission in the 2011 Focus. Less weight helps improve fuel economy.

Ford engineers began developing the dual-clutch technology when advances in the speed of processors, memory and the mechanical actuators that shift the gears progressed to the point that a manual transmission could be made to perform as smoothly as an automatic.

The kind of computing power needed in terms of speed and amount of memory advanced to the point where it is now possible to offer the driver fast, crisp and seamless shifts from this advanced transmission at an affordable price.

—George Herr, PowerShift calibration supervisor

Since its launch in Fiesta in 2010, Ford engineers have continued to develop and refine PowerShift’s performance and efficiency. The PowerShift for the all-new Focus, for example, offers several new features including a more compliant clutch damper spring design to reduce noise levels. Piero Aversa, PowerShift engineering manager, said the Focus shift schedule has been optimized for the wider torque band provided by the car’s 160-horsepower, direct-injected 2.0-liter engine.

Also new for Focus is the SelectShift Automatic feature. SelectShift allows a driver to change gears—up or down—by pressing a button on the shift handle. By pushing the plus sign button, the transmission upshifts. Push the minus sign button and the car downshifts. The PowerShift computer prevents a driver from downshifting too fast and causing damage from over-revving. In the Focus, drivers also can choose Sport Mode, which changes the timing of the shifts for quicker acceleration.

Ford engineers also worked to improve low-speed responsiveness and smoothness in response to customer feedback.



What an easy way to lower fuel consumption. It is difficult to accept that this was not done 50 or even 60 years ago.


Computer chips weren't around 50 or 60 years ago with the level of integration and cost required.


@ HarveyD:
Evolution takes place over time. There is principally no difference between natural and technical evolution as far as the factor time is concerned.
Additonally, there was not as much pressure for innovative solutions 50 years ago as presently.


When gasoline is cheap you do not need all the innovations. Necessity is the mother of invention.


Who decides what we are driving? It is a very pertinent question.

I guess that adding one extra gear every 10 to 15 years may be the best those people are prepared to do. Others are producing 8 gear transmission already.

The electronics required could have been made 50 years ago (or at the same time we went to the moon) and upgraded many times thereafter.

There are no acceptable reasons why it was not done.

Nick Lyons


There are no acceptable reasons why it was not done.

Acceptable to whom? The auto manufacturers and oil companies found gas guzzlers to be perfectly acceptable.

As others have pointed out, cheap gasoline meant there was little demand for such an innovation 50 years ago. Just putting an extra, taller gear into all transmissions back then would have saved a lot of gas over the years, but in a competitive marketplace where some costs are externalized or deferred, auto makers were not motivated to do it. Free markets are dynamic and help create a lot of wealth, but completely unfettered markets don't always provide the best outcomes in the long term. There is a place for regulation in the marketplace, providing a seat at the table for consideration of the common good and that of future generations. 50 years ago the only 'regulation' in this space was being done by big oil and big auto, and no one with the ability to change product direction was looking past next quarter's results.


I have been using a very similar system for many's called a manual transmission! Anyone who cannot master a stick shift and clutch should not be allow to drive a car, unless they have a physical disability.

Brian P

Automatic in the form of "automated-manual" transmissions have been around for a long time, but the innovation of using two clutches to control alternating gears to enable smooth gear changes has not, and the computing power to co-ordinate which gear to pre-select and to co-ordinate disengaging one clutch and engaging another has most certainly NOT been around "50 years ago" and to even suggest that is an absurdity. Computers back then were the size of a house and cost a fortune.

Could it have been done without such computing power available? In some sort of fashion ... sure. But without the benefit of a torque converter to smooth out gear changes and without very careful control of the mechanical clutches, and without control of engine load while changing gears (requires drive-by-wire), it would have been a very jerky experience that almost no ordinary people would have considered acceptable. Actually, there is an example of such a transmission available right now, in the Smart car. Go drive one and come back and tell us what most people think of the transmission in those. (That one has an automated-manual but without dual clutches - and it even has drive-by-wire, but it's still a disaster in terms of smoothness and driveability.)

In the 1960's, power and smoothness were priorities over economy. Like it or not, that's the way it was.

Folks who weren't or aren't willing to accept the inefficiency of a traditional automatic transmission have always had the availability of a good old-fashioned row-it-yourself manual transmission ... and that's what I do.


Leonardo da Vinci conceptualized the CVT in 1490.

Daimler Benz built and patented a CVT in 1886

Zenith Motorcycles used CVTs in 1910

Browne used CVTs in 1922

On a comparative efficiency scale:

1. The zero shift Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) reaches 98%

2. The Manual Transmission (MT)can reach 97?, with the best drivers.

3. CVTs have reached 94% and going up with average drivers.

4. Most Automatics (AT) in use can reach 86+% with average drivers.

In principle, a 15% efficiency gain can be obtained by using AMT instead of AT. Recent CVTs are getting close to MTs and even better when average drivers are considered.

Calvin Johns

Better yet, use Toyota's HSD drive and get it all over with...


Hopefully these robotized manual transmissions will prove more reliable than the recent hydraulic AT.. lately these things have become very expensive to "repair". Perhaps they will have longer life on the dry clutches than the usual MT.


Dual clutch 6 speeds are a hot item, it they prove reliable people will be looking for them in the showroom.


The Toyota HDS make use of improved CVT, improved converters, e-motors etc.



I think you're a bit confused about those transmissions. This Ford Powershift is similar to VW/VAG DSG transmissions and have nothing to do with CVT neither Toyota HSD.

BTW, Toyota HSD is NOT a CVT. It is often called a e-CVT to show people it has a function similar to a CVT while based on a completely different setup than "standard" mechanical CVTs.


    "This power split achieves the benefits of a continuously variable transmission (CVT), except that the torque/speed conversion uses an electric motor rather than a direct mechanical gear train connection. An HSD car cannot operate without the computer, power electronics, battery pack and motor-generators, though in principle it could operate while missing the internal combustion engine. (See: Plug-in hybrid) In practice, HSD equipped cars can be driven a mile or two without gasoline, as an emergency measure to reach a gas station.

    An HSD transaxle contains a planetary gear set that adjusts and blends the amount of torque from the engine and motor(s) as it’s needed by the front wheels. It is a sophisticated and complicated combination of gearing, electrical motor-generators and computer controlled electronic controls."


    It is difficult to accept that this was not done 50 or even 60 years ago.

Previous remarks people made about the pace of embedding electronic sensors, actuators and controls are valid. Other possible enhancements like "Displacement on demand" while conceived and implemented were not a success or cost effective.

Many other potential benefits depend on perfecting electronic controls even more. Some require special sensors, some require more CPU/DSP power, some require better lab characterization an control software development.

Keep tuned to the synergy of the powerful DI ECUs with mild hybrids, start/stop, VVTL and HCCI/LTC/PPC.


Did anybody check what was developed in a rather short time some 50 years ago to fly people to the moon and back? The electronics and computers involved are a few orders of magnitude more complex than what is required to control the most complex mechanical power transmission and ICE.

Electronically controlled ICE and transmissions were not developed 50 years ago because the Big 3 was not interested. It was easier to use cheap AD campaigns to convince us that 2-speed AT were the best that the industry could do. What a bunch of lies that lasted 50+ years.


HarveyD, i usually agree with most of your comments but there's no need to demonize the big-3 here. The culprit is (was) cheap, plentiful oil.
Nobody was interested in inproving MPG when gas was 19 cents/gal.
And, it's a matter of customer desires. Ford came out with the Edsel with padded dash and seatbelts, etc, as safety features and nobody was interested. (well, maybe it was the styling that killed it) But people today are interested in better fuel economy so the auto-cos are responding.


In the late 70s gasoline was 75 cents per gallon, in the early 80s it went above $1.25 and people were shocked. Fuel for cars is one of those consumer items where people complain about the price, but keep buying it in even greater quantity and the oil companies and OPEC know this.


damn....I was coming out against the pretenders that the electronic control systems required could not have been developed 40-50 years ago. We all know that more primitive bulky units could have been developed 4 to 5 decades ago. Refinements, my Moore's Law, would have been very quick. However, the race was to larger, more powerful, V-8 gas guzzlers and heavier cars consuming even more. Did we really need 5000+ lbs vehicles to drive to work? If so, why aren't we using 5+tonnes farm tractors to mow house lawns?



We didn't put anyone on the moon 50 years ago. Closer to 40 years ago. The vast majority of calculations on those projects were done by hand and with slide rules. A vehicle with a moon budget to have top of the line processing power 50 years ago would have been the size of an 18-wheeler and cost as much as a Saturn V rocket.

Reality does not agree with you.

The processors they are using right now cost about $3 to $5 a piece and require hundreds of thousands of lines of software which takes a well organized embedded development team 18 months to properly develop & test. The sophisticated methods required did not exist. Have you ever seen punch cards and tape for computers of the 60s? Have you ever seen the "solid state" memory that they used to "program" computers of the time? They were like very large PCBs and trying to squeeze the 1 Megabyte of data in the current controllers onto those form factors would have been IMPOSSIBLE to debug.


    I was coming out against the pretenders that the electronic control systems required could not have been developed 40-50 years ago.

HarveyD, now you entering the delusional realm, making a mockery out of yourself.

Cheer leading for your pet solution while commenting in every article is strange but within your rights. Calling people pretenders while making such verifiable false claims is something else.

    We all know that more primitive bulky units could have been developed 4 to 5 decades ago. Refinements, my Moore's Law, would have been very quick.

We who, white face ?
(Transliterating from - "Nós quem, cara pálida?" - our version of an old catch phrase of yours "What you mean we, white man?")

As you often talk about Moore's Law, preach to PARCinc (Ex-Xerox PARC), and neglect merit to previous technical achievements of many people and organizations let me feed you with some links for you to start browsing, inform yourself, and think twice.

Gordon Moore ( co-founded Intel in 1968 to exploit the opportunities of the VLSI revolution. In 1971 Intel was releasing the 4004 ( a 4 bit microprocessor with 2300 transistors, a very high count then.

Only in 1978/79 Carver Mead (Caltech) & Lynn Conway (Xerox PARC) (, would start a revolution ( with the first open course on VLSI ( and a design methodology that would allow designing the increasing transistor budget into new applications cost effectively.


continuing ..

Control systems ( does not have to be implemented digitally or even electronically.

As reliable and capable digital electronic controls became affordable, more sophisticated and precise control strategies became possible.

It is still an ongoing process as I mentioned in a previous post. [Just look at Freescale's (ex-Motorola) processors used in the newer ECUs from Bosch; Delphi; Magneti Marelli; SiemensVDO/Continental; Megasquirt ;-) ]

Pneumatic, hydraulic controls were usual in mechanical engineering and machines. Distributors in Spark Ignited ICEs (Otto cycle) usually control the spark timing with a combination of tho mechanisms: by rotation with mass-spring and by load with manifold-vacuum-membrane. Timing and compression ratios had to be defensively designed with high security margins.

As a matter of fact, by 1963, Chevrolet Corvettes (, ) had Fuel Injection by Rochester ( a predecessor to Delphi (

    Equipment installations for 1963 began reflecting the market's demand for more civility in sporting cars. - the power brake option went into 15 percent of production, power steering into 12 percent. On the other hand, only 278 buyers specified the $421.80 air conditioning; leather upholstery - a mere $80.70 - was ordered on only about 400 cars. The beautiful cast aluminum knock-off wheels, manufactured for Chevy by Kelsey-Hayes, cost $322.80 a set, but few buyers checked off that option. However, almost 18,000 Sting Rays left St. Louis with the four-speed manual gearbox - better than four out of every five.[7]

    All 1963 cars had 327cid engines, which made 250 hp (186 kW) standard, with optional variants that made 300 hp (224 kW), 340 hp (254 kW) and 360 hp (268 kW). The most powerful engine was the Rochester fuel injected 327cid V8, which made 360 hp (272 kW). Options available on the C2 included AM-FM radio (mid 1963), air conditioning and leather upholstery. New for the 1963 model year was an optional electronic ignition, the breakerless magnetic pulse-triggered Delcotronic, first offered by Pontiac on some 1963 models.[8]

Cost benefit relation (and sales) probably did not allow widespread adoption. Do you realize that power brakes were optional ?

As strange as might be GM has been thinking just like you:

    Did anybody check what was developed in a rather short time some 50 years ago to fly people to the moon and back? The electronics and computers involved are a few orders of magnitude more complex than what is required to control the most complex mechanical power transmission and ICE.

It was such an "easy" endeavor that GM bought Hughes Electronics Corporation ( to bring in know how, latter transferred to Delphi.

There is a long history to Fuel Injection, both mechanical and electronically controlled (

There were other important players as Bendix and later Bosch which were at the forefronts of the developments.

Nearly everything conceivable was developed and even sold although commanding high prices while bringing arguable benefits at that time.

    Did we really need 5000+ lbs vehicles to drive to work?

Maybe not Harvey, but it's not pertinent for our discussions, only a means to derail real advances.

I believe, as many people in the FREE world, that we've got to have the choice. In a market economy, we should avoid as much as possible unnecessary regulation and keep prices as the signaling. It's not always possible, cause there are physical limits that require some kind of social regulation, best done through democratic means.

The point here is that regulation of other peoples lives and activities should be held to a minimum to keep us free of Big Government, Big Corporation, Big Bullies.

At the end of the day, our values matter. They control the way we organize into societies, what we tolerate, what we don't, how we organize governance, how we comply with established order or not.

I don't have all the answers, but cheating, lying, calling names, forcing bad science, manipulating people don't seem to be the right answer for me.

Good values, sound science and engineering will lead us to the best path. That's what I believe.

My 2 cents: I want you and others to realize neither money nor solutions grow on trees, it's the result of ingenuity and hard work of lot's of people, with cross pollination of ideas, and a touch of genius now and then. Let's reward those who contribute to a better world at least with recognition.

BTW, congratulations to Ford for it's efforts.


I read that Fiesta owners have been complaining about problems experienced from the dual-clutch automatic transmission, and Ford had to quietly replace some transmissions.

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