Despite a majority of U.S. consumers preferring automatic transmissions over manual offerings, Ford’s plan to offer the 1-liter EcoBoost with only a six-speed manual for the 2015 Focus is seen by the automaker as a sensible decision for the home market.
Ward’s Auto reports U.S. Focus customers are more likely to choose a manual over an automatic — the lineup as a whole as a take rate of between 12 percent and 13 percent — if not the desire to learn how to shift, according to Focus marketing manager Seema Bardwaj:
We see younger customers who think it’s cool and think they are better engaged with the vehicle (with a manual). We see that in that customer that you may not see in other vehicle segments.
In addition, Ford believes U.S. consumers may not find the dual-clutch automatic offered with the engine elsewhere to their liking, citing customer reaction toward the technology — and complaints of abrupt shifting that was later fixed through software updates — behind its reasoning. Last year, TTAC reported that the 1.0L/Powershift combo in the Fiesta was axed, due to concerns over NVH. This may have been the case for the Focus as well.
However, the take rate for the pairing under the Focus may be lower than hoped, which may lead to an automatic behind the 1-liter down the line. In the meantime, Ford hopes the engine more than makes up for the lowered expectations, thanks in part due to its fuel economy; under the hood of the Fiesta with the same transmission, the B-segment car delivers a combined 37 mpg.