8-speed Automatic Transmission courtesy of Wikipedia
In order to meet the increasing demands for fuel efficiency, Ford Motor Company will be introducing an innovative 8-speed transmission. The new transmission will be fully automatic, and is slated to be paired with Ford’s new three-cylinder engine. With a total displacement of only one liter, this is the smallest engine ever produced by the Ford Motor Company. The new engine and 8-speed transmission are scheduled for production within the United States in December of 2011. This transmission is purely a Ford creation as the company has invested close to $135 million dollars to engineering, design, and tooling in order to build the transmission in-house.
The 8-speed transmission’s newly designed gear-box will provide Ford with the ability to reduce engine displacement in order to reduce fuel consumption. However, the transmission’s ground breaking Input Torque Sensor Technology will allow the transmission to “sense” the amount of torque required, and automatically change the gear ratio to provide smooth take-offs without a lack of power. This new sensor also makes it possible for the transmission to adjust the hydraulic pressure applied to the clutch plates for seamless gear shifting without the effects of “gear hunting”.
Supportive components to the transmission have also been redesigned in order to remove variations that prematurely caused failures. The entire hydraulic actuator system has been integrated into the transmission itself, which provides better hydraulic control and longer component life. The addition of a dual cooling system further ensures component longevity. The split cooling unit allows the vital components within the engine and transmission to warm up faster in order to prevent them from experiencing excess wear when operating the vehicle before it has reached operating temperature.
Information released by Ford Motor Company claims that the 8-speed transmission’s fuel economy is, on average, approximately four percent better than the fuel economy produced by their 6-speed transmission. Additional fuel economy is also realized from Ford’s split cooling system. The enhanced warm-up feature reduces the viscosity of the cold transmission fluid and motor oil so the engine and transmission do not have to work as hard to over-come the additional friction caused by thickened fluids.
Because the Ford F-150 is such a popular vehicle class, it is highly likely that Ford’s new 8-speed transmission will appear in these vehicles as well as the line of passenger vehicles sporting the new three cylinder engine. Dedicated to fuel efficiency improvements, Ford plans to include turbocharged EcoBoost products in 90% of its vehicles sold in the United States by 2013. Ford has been downsizing their engines since 2006 with no loss in power, and increased fuel economy. These changes were made possible due to their EcoBoost engines and innovative powertrain products like their new line of transmissions.
Ford’s new transmission design provides smooth shifting, smart-torque sensing technology, improved component longevity, and enhanced fuel economy. The combinations of improved transmission technology and Ford’s EcoBoost engines have made fossil-fuel burning engines powerful, yet efficient. Considering that sales of hybrid vehicles are only around 3%, it is apparent that American’s desire classic vehicles with power and fuel efficiency, and Ford is committed to fulfilling those desires.