Inside Info on the Ford PowerShift Six-speed Automatic Transmission

By Ford Social Member

The Ford PowerShift six-speed automatic transmission will deliver the fuel efficiency of a manual gearbox with the convenience and ease of a premium automatic transmission. That’s a pretty big claim! Here’s some insider info on how the transmission does what it does.

PowerShift provides the full comfort of an automatic with a more sophisticated driving dynamic, thanks to uninterrupted torque from the dual-clutch technology, which consists essentially of two manual transmissions working in parallel, each with its own independent clutch unit.  One clutch carries the uneven gears – 1, 3 and 5 – while the other the even gears – 2, 4 and 6.  Subsequent gear changes are coordinated between both clutches as they engage and disengage for a seamless delivery of torque to the wheels.

A dry clutch transmits power and torque through manual transmission clutch facings, while most automatic transmissions utilize wet clutch plates submerged in oil.  As a result, the dry-clutch PowerShift transmission does not require an oil pump or torque converter, providing superior mechanical efficiency.

“A dry clutch is a real sweet spot for lighter vehicle applications,” said Piero Aversa, manager, Ford Automatic Transmission Engineering.  “PowerShift is more efficient, it saves weight, is more durable, more efficient and the unit is sealed for life, requiring no regular maintenance.”

PowerShift, unlike conventional automatic transmissions, does not need the heavier torque converter or planetary gears.  In addition, the dry-clutch derivative eliminates the need for the weighty pumps, hydraulic fluids, cooling lines and external coolers that wet clutch transmissions require.  As a result, the dry-clutch PowerShift transmission can weigh nearly 30 pounds less than, for example, the four-speed automatic transmission featured on today’s Ford Focus.

Compared to traditional automatic four-speed transmissions, PowerShift can help reduce fuel consumption by up to 9 percent, depending on the application.

Part of this Ford transmission technology has been waiting nearly 25 years for computing power to catch up to make it a reality. Specifically, the Ford PowerShift dry-clutch six-speed automatic transmission is one of the first transmissions to benefit from Torque Hole Filling (THF), a Ford-developed and patented concept and methodology conceived a quarter century ago. THF uses a combination of mathematical algorithms, computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools and transmission control technologies to fill what is commonly known as the torque hole – the slight hesitation drivers may feel during an upshift when there is a momentary drop in transmission torque output followed by a rise in torque.

To address this challenge, Dr. Davor Hrovat, a Ford Technical Fellow in Controls Research, authored an invention disclosure in the mid-1980s on how to coordinate engine and transmission controls to help eliminate the torque hole. Further analytical work and simulation revealed this pioneering concept was promising, but the technology needed to implement it wasn’t fully mature yet.

“Although the team has known what was needed to create smoother shifts, the actual implementation had to wait for drive-by-wire technologies, electronic throttle control and processing power to catch up to transform this inventive idea into a reality,” said Chris Teslak, Ford Research technical expert. He credits THF project technical leaders Yuji Fujii and Eric Tseng, along with other core technical experts/engineers Jahan Asgari, Tom Brown, Chad Griffin, Don Levens and Brad Riedle for helping to bring THF to fruition under Hrovat’s guidance.

Enabling technologies such as electronic throttle control and improved actuators and sensors, coupled with the THF methodology, gave the team of Ford engineers the tools needed to precisely sync transmission and engine to transfer and smooth out the torque during a portion of an upshift lasting a fraction of a second. Adding that little extra torque during the shift helps fill the hole, creating a smoother drive experience for the customer.

In internal engineering evaluations using a PowerShift prototype, THF improved shift quality ratings by up to 2 points on a scale of 1 to 10 in comparison to baseline shifts with conventional controls.

To pre-stage this fraction-of-a-second “conversation” between engine and transmission, a certain degree of finesse, coordination and upfront knowledge of what customers perceive as a quality shift was needed. The technology also required the Ford engineering teams from several disciplines to throw away preconceived notions about conventional engine and shift controls.

In total, the team logged approximately three years or 6,000 man-hours of computer-aided mathematical modeling, simulation and analysis of engine speeds, torque and clutch capacity in only 24 months real time to prove the THF concept was production-ready.

Ford has two U.S. patents covering broad THF applications and several other related patents are pending. Further research on how to most effectively incorporate THF into more conventional planetary gear-based transmissions is ongoing.
m jordan 10/08/2014
this new technology fails to mention that the car will roll backward after 3 seconds if the brake is not applied resulting in the use of 1 foot on the brake & 1 foot on the accelerator! not the way i was taught to drive 40 years ago
mark geer 03/24/2011
my 2011 ford fiesta sedan is great car that get excellent gas mileage. the powershift is definitely the future.
nams 03/01/2011
I got a 2011 fiesta sedan, and you never ever feel gear shift while driving in my 6 sp auto ... extremely smooth, i even liked it more compared to driving a civic and finally decided to buy fiesta because of this... great economy too...
maria williamson 02/17/2011
far out mate .. thats bloody unreal... now design one sexy looking convertible with with this inovative technology!!!!
Kevin Fink 02/14/2011
The EVO is a joke, really, is Mitsubishi competition to anyone anymore? And CVT's are not fast, period, not fast off the line, not fast mid acceleration. Been there, done that (the CVT).
Jim Kennedy 02/02/2011
got in my 2011 ford fiesta, alot of torque for a little 4 cylinder. you can barely feel the trans shift, very smooth,and great for fuel economy.
Chris Elmquist 02/02/2011
automatics are good but dont forget about the people that like to shift for themselves
Gabriela Kralikova 02/02/2011
well done Peter yes it is made in Slovakia & Mondeo, Kuga & Focus is using it already.
Popsnicker 02/02/2011
Mitsubishi\\'s SSC-TC is not the same as Ford\\'s Powershift. They are similar but not the same. And CVT\\'s have no soul.
Zachary D Davis 02/02/2011
Stupid FLAPPY PADDLES. Forget that, The Twin Clutch Technology was first used on the new Lancer Evolutions. It's actually Faster than a manual because the shift times on the Automatic are within .001 of a second. For the Mustang the Powershift 6 Speed should be standard with the Optional 6 Speed Manual. There should always be an option of Manual as some people (I've seen it) Cannot drive automatics. They bury the brake looking for the clutch, they hit the throttle thinking that they have the clutch down a bit. it gets bad.
The Lancer Evolution MR edition from the 2010 model year has a 6 speed manual and 6 speed SSC-TC Transmission. SSC-TC is the same as PowerShift, except by Mitsubishi not Ford.
I imagine that all cars will soon switch to this PowerShift. The other transmission I would like to see become popular too is the CVT. I've driven Altimas and Maximas. I think that could be an incredibly popular transmission for high horsepower engines. It works like a Bicycle gearing setup. 1 large 1 small, the large gets smaller and the small gets larger. You can barely press the throttle, get to say 1500 rpm. And achieve 65 mph on a freeway without going over 1500 rpm. Or you could do what we all would do, Put a hole in the floor of the car. Rev the engine up to 7,500 rpm and It will sit there getting you from not to speeding in no time flat.
Chris Wallace 02/02/2011
With paddle shifters? Imagine that as an option on the mustang!
Karl Eng 02/02/2011
Looking forward to it's application in future Mustangs!!
Muhammad Sheik Oumar 02/02/2011
Its great that Ford is continuing with 6 speed. Other manufacturers are going as far as 9 speed! Thats crazy! You will never need more than 6 gears in a car if you set the ratio's correctly to suit a vehicle's particular application.
Dave Evans 02/02/2011
What vehicles/powertrains will be receiving the PowerShift technology? When will those vehicles be on the market?
Mark Kirkman 02/02/2011
cool, read my mind. upgrading tractor powershifting to modern automotive engineering
Chris Tyra 02/02/2011
Powershifting automatic!? Put this baby in the mustang with a ratchet shifter as stock equipment :]
Bobby Jones 02/02/2011
Made in China?
Stuart Pennington 02/02/2011
Ford leading the pack again in the forefront
Robert Liebel 02/02/2011
Something MoPar hasn't figured out yet
Koch Rajes 02/02/2011
Chris Gilbert 02/02/2011
Dave Prasse 02/02/2011
Since the Freeport dealership I sell at is closed , due to snow , today will be a great research day !!