Ford Motor Co. and German supplier Getrag GmbH & Cie KG are teaming up to produce a new dual-clutch 6-speed transmission dubbed “PowerShift” that will be used next year in North America in the auto maker's B- and C-segment cars.

The transmission is being designed and developed by Getrag Ford Transmissions GmbH, a joint venture that produces both manual and automated manual transmissions, a top Ford engineer says.

“(Getrag) has been our partner for manual (transmissions) for several years in Europe, and we have now extended that (cooperation) into this dual-clutch,” says Barb Samardzich, vice president-powertrain product development. “We've had this in our plans for quite a while.”

Samardzich declines to reveal where the PowerShift transmission will be produced for the North American market. However, Ford early last year announced it would invest $550 million to build a new transmission manufacturing facility with Getrag in Guanajuato, Mexico.

The transmission facility is near Ford's Cuautitlan, Mexico, assembly plant, where the Fiesta B-car will be built for North America beginning next year.

Getrag has been building dual-clutch transmission plants in Tipton, IN; and Irapuato, Mexico. The Indiana plant is on hold pending a legal dispute with its customer, Chrysler LLC.

PowerShift will deliver the fuel efficiency of a manual gearbox with the convenience of an automatic, she says. Compared with traditional 4-speed automatics, PowerShift will reduce fuel consumption up to 9%.

The dual-clutch configuration essentially is two manual transmissions working in parallel to deliver uninterrupted torque delivery. One clutch carries the uneven-numbered gears, while the other handles even-numbered gears. Shifts are coordinated between the two clutches as they engage and disengage.

Ford currently offers a PowerShift transmission in its European Focus C-car that utilizes a twin wet-clutch system to handle the torque levels of the car's 2.0L turbodiesel powertrain.

In contrast, North America will get a dry-clutch derivative of PowerShift that does not require an oil pump or torque converter, providing enhanced mechanical efficiency. It also keeps costs in check, allowing Ford to offer the system on its coming lineup of small cars.

Getrag Bets Big on Dual-Clutch Technology