Dual-clutch technology for Ford Fiesta
The new Ford Fiesta will be rolling off the
Eastern Seaboard production line very soon. Its sibling, the Mazda2
is already coming off the line in small numbers, and the latest
Fiesta news from the Los Angeles show was that it will be offered in
a dual-clutch transmission with a 1.6 liter engine.
Duel Clutch should not be confused with dual plate clutches. In a
standard manual gearbox there are usually five gears and one clutch
to split the transmission from the engine torque input. A
dual-clutch gearbox, by contrast, uses two clutches. Instead of the
left foot clutch pedal, sophisticated electronics and hydraulics
control the clutches, just as they do in a standard automatic
transmission. In a DCT, however, the clutches operate independently
of each other. One clutch controls the odd gears (first, third,
fifth and reverse), while the other controls the even gears (second,
fourth and even sixth - in a six speed). Using this arrangement,
gears can be changed without interrupting the power flow from the
engine to the transmission.
DCT is then truly an automated manual transmission. In principle,
the DCT behaves just like a standard manual transmission, in that it
has input and auxiliary shafts to handle gears, synchromesh rings
and a clutch. What it doesn’t have is a clutch pedal, because
computers, solenoids and hydraulics do the actual shifting. Even
without a clutch pedal, the driver can still ‘tell’ the computer
when to take action through paddles, buttons or a gearshift lever.
In other words, manual over-ride.
For traditional manual gearbox exponents, slick shifting with left
leg depressing the clutch is supposedly very possible and very fast.
However, with DCT, no left leg or left hand is needed and it can do
upshifts in a mere 8 milliseconds, and many drivers now feel that
the DCT offers the quickest acceleration times of any vehicle on the
market. It certainly offers smooth acceleration by eliminating the
shift shock that accompanies gearshifts in manual transmissions and
even some automatics. Best of all, it affords drivers the luxury of
choosing whether they prefer to control the shifting themselves or
let the computer do all of the work. And in most instances, the
computer knows best!
With the world’s attention on fuel economy, perhaps the most
compelling advantage of a DCT is a claimed improvement in economy.
Because the power flow from the engine to the transmission is not
interrupted followed by a call for more fuel by the engine, fuel
efficiency increases dramatically. It is claimed that a six-speed
DCT can deliver up to a 10 percent increase in relative fuel
efficiency when compared to a conventional five-speed automatic.
That is impressive numbers!
Ford call this their Powershift dual-clutch gearbox co-developed
with transmission specialists Getrag, the six-speed Powershift will
be the ‘automatic’ gearbox alternative to the standard manual
transmission when it goes on sale in North America in the middle of
Powershift is also set to make its way on to other Fiesta models
sold elsewhere in the world, including the Thai built Fiestas. It is
the first gearbox alternative to the five-speed manual offered with
the 1.6 liter Ti-VCT four-cylinder petrol engine.
The recently released Fiesta Econetic diesel is also in line to go
to the dual-clutch option sometime in the future. This all makes
good sense as the dual clutch set-up does also save fuel.
Last week I asked who made this electric car? The year was 1978. It was Volvo.
So to this week. Take a look at the picture of this motorcycle. It is very
famous and a world record holder. What was the rider’s name?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
[email protected] gmail.com
Raikkonen to play in the dirt
Kimi Raikkonen’s future in F1 has taken a set-back. With no team
willing to meet his salary demands at the end of 2009, he has taken his helmet
and gloves and will be seen at the wheel of one of Citroen’s Red Bull-backed
junior team cars in the 2010 World Rally Championship (WRC).
Raikkonen, whose Ferrari seat has been taken by Fernando Alonso for next year,
has signed a one year contract with Citroen and has not ruled out a Formula One
return in the future - though only if it is with a team with title-winning
The 2007 F1 champion did not impress anyone in 2008 and 2009. In fact he was
considered to be so much of a hindrance to Ferrari, the Scuderia bought him out
of his contract with still 12 months to run. You don’t do that with a much
With no takers in F1, Raikkonen has gone to rally driving, saying, “I always
wanted to compete in rally, especially in the World Rally Championship at some
point in my career. Thanks to Red Bull, I have the opportunity to drive the best
car of the series with the Citroen C4. This is a new but very exciting
challenge. For the moment we have a one year contract and we will see how it
goes for the future. I am really looking forward to testing the car and taking
the start of the first rally.”
Since that would be the longest string of sentences Raikkonen has ever put
together, I have the more than sneaking feeling the statements were crafted by
Citroen and Red Bull’s publicity office.
However, with a new hat (and please get him one that fits) he may have his
enthusiasm renewed, and return to F1 in 2011. But I somehow doubt it.
Honda goes peanut farming
Honda released their Personal-Neo Urban Transport concept at the Los
Angeles show in December, known by the acronym P-NUT.
Following similar urban concepts from Nissan (LandGlider), Renault (Twizy) and
Volkswagen (L1), the P-NUT is a three-seater (driver in the front middle,
passengers at the sides rear), rear-engine rear-drive vehicle claimed to be able
to accommodate a number of potential powertrains, including a conventional
internal combustion engine, petrol-electric hybrid or full battery-electric.
According to Honda, the P-NUT is intended to capture “a future direction for
premium sophistication while balancing the need for maximum interior space and
an aerodynamic appearance.”
Honda R&D Americas director of advanced design, Dave Marek said “A new
generation is discovering the benefits of living in urban centers that provide
convenient access to business, entertainment and social opportunities. The
Personal-Neo Urban Transport concept explores the packaging and design potential
for a vehicle conceived exclusively around the city lifestyle.”
While the P-NUT is a long distance from a production line, Dave Marek said it
demonstrated that ultra-compact cars in the future would be far removed from
“The objective of the exterior and interior designers was to explore the
potential for a new type of small-segment category vehicle that overcomes many
of the objections for existing micro-car designs,” he said. “While the Honda
P-NUT concept introduces function-oriented concepts, it also shows that small
cars don’t have to compromise on style or amenities.” But I think you’d have to
be a bit of a peanut to want one!
Bob Lutz understands market forces
GM vice-chairman Bob Lutz (“Global warming is a crock of sh*t!”) has
come out in his address to the Los Angeles show saying that by making consumers
pay more for their petrol or diesel is probably the only way to ensure the
successful mainstream take-up of electric vehicles.
He argued that a palpable financial incentive was the only real way people would
be encouraged to take the leap into electric vehicle ownership - especially in
difficult economic times.
“One of the prime things that has to happen long term for any of the expensive
electrically driven technology to have a true commercial success as opposed to a
novelty success (or convincing the public to) make a true financial sacrifice in
order to protect the environment, so the cost effectiveness of the technology
has to improve.
“And a hindrance to doing that is low gasoline prices. Like it or not, they are
on a tight budget, and they are not going to pay ten of thousands of dollars
more in order to save hundreds of dollars a year on gasoline - they will not.
“So, over time, if the country is serious about cutting back oil consumption and
reducing petroleum’s impact on the environment - what we are going to have to do
is gradually increase the federal taxation on fuels.
“We are not advocating that, but if that doesn’t happen, then it is going to be
very difficult for the Volt’s (GM’s electric vehicle) technology to become
Tales from the Service department
The following is reputedly true, and although I cannot confirm
it, it makes a wonderful yarn anyway:
When my husband and I arrived at a car dealers to pick up our car, we were
told the keys had been locked in it.
We went to the service department and found a mechanic working feverishly to
unlock the driver’s side door.
As I watched from the passenger side, I instinctively tried the door handle
and discovered that it was unlocked.
“Hey,” I announced to the technician, “it’s open!”
He replied, “I know - I already got that side.”
This was at the Ford dealership in the Australian country town of Dubbo.
Mercedes-Benz and McLaren have officially divorced and the final
SLR McLaren-Mercedes will be finished soon. However, that does not mean the
McLaren and Mercedes-Benz have finished building supercars.
Shortly after McLaren Automotive unveiled the first photographs and official
details of its new MP4-12C coupe, Mercedes-Benz has replied with a full range of
details on their new SLS.
Not since the 300SL of the 1950s has Mercedes-Benz produced a model with
roof-hinged ‘gullwing’ doors - and never before, in four decades of turning out
high-performance vehicles, has the Mercedes-AMG division developed a vehicle
from scratch, in-house.
Both supercars are expected to be priced from around half a million dollars when
sales commence, although for McLaren this will not occur until at least 2011.
The SLS, on the other hand, enters production in the coming months by June 2010.
The SLS features the iconic gullwing doors, Mercedes’ first-ever aluminum
space-frame body, a dry sump 420 kW 6.2 liter AMG V8, seven-speed dual-clutch
automated manual gearbox (another Benz first) in a Ferrari-style rear-mounted
transaxle, 47:53 front/rear weight distribution for the front/mid-engine chassis
layout, aluminum double-wishbone suspension, provisional 0-100 km/h acceleration
of 3.8 seconds, making it a real supercar, with supercar performance. However,
it is becoming a crowded market niche, including the Ferrari 458 Italia and
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