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Ford Fiesta to Use Dry DCT, while Focus Will Have Planetary Auto

January 9, 2013

Ford is set to announce automatic transmission choices for its innovative one-liter, three-cylinder Fox gasoline engine – and the surprise, according to inside information from leading transmission supplier Getrag, is that completely different transmission principles will be applied to the various models in the automaker’s European catalog.

The Fiesta, for instance, will use a new-for-Europe dry clutch Powershift DCT, while the three-cylinder engine in the larger Focus will be paired with Ford’s US-designed and sourced six-speed planetary automatic.

Ford has gained near-universal plaudits for the performance, economy and refinement of its extremely downsized Fox three-cylinder gasoline engine in the medium-sized European Focus. But the Company faces something of a dilemma in deciding on a suitable automatic transmission to make the innovative one-liter engine an attractive proposition for customers who prefer not to shift their own gears.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that the Fox engine is deliberately designed to be applied to almost the entire line-up of Ford vehicles. These range from the compact Fiesta hatchback to the much-more-substantial Focus portfolio, as well as the near-premium, next-generation Mondeo sedan and station wagon and the B-Max, C-Max, S-Max and Galaxy range of minivans. The span of vehicle curb weights is wide, stretching from barely 1,000 kg to almost 1,700 kg. A range of automatic transmissions is at the disposal of Ford engineers. These include the dry clutch Getrag-Ford DCT used on US-market Fiestas and Focuses, and the European Powershift wet clutch DCT designed for high-torque diesels, available on most current Ford models but very much a first-generation unit in terms of architecture and efficiency.

While the Fiesta paired happily with the six-speed dry DCT from the US, said Ernie DeVincent, vice president of product development at Getrag, the weightier Fiesta posed more of a challenge. “With the larger platform there is too much inertia and you can’t get the acceleration that’s needed,” he told at a recent industry conference in Berlin. “That’s why Ford has decided to go for the US six-speed planetary automatic.”

This unit is a joint development between Ford and GM, and was launched in 2006. Ford codes the unit, which is built in large volumes in the US, the 6F. GM versions are labeled Hydramatic 6T-70 and 6T-75.

DeVincent, who was an engineer at Ford until he joined Getrag in 2006, did not give a launch date for the new engine/automatic pairings, nor state which transmissions would be used on other larger European Ford models. However, he did reveal that the Asian market would be the main target for Getrag’s new wet clutch 6DCT150, the six-speed, lower-torque derivative of the new-generation 7DCT300 seven-speed core model.

“This (6DCT150) transmission is aimed at Asia, where in many markets the power-to-weight ratio of vehicles is often low, and overloading is also common,” DeVincent said. “A dry clutch solution would not be appropriate where overloading is concerned.”

Questioned why Getrag would continue to offer both dry and wet clutch six-speed DCTs in the lower torque ranges, DeVincent said that, although the dry clutch solution was perfectly adequate for this type of vehicle, some automakers “just don’t want dry clutches.”

© 2013, The Lubrizol Corporation



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