By on December 9, 2014

2014-ford-fiesta-sfe-ecoboost-front-side-view

Ford is considering giving the B&B’s least favorite transmission type another go for future applications.

Automotive News reports global product development boss Raj Nair said as much during a media event in Detroit. Though Ford hasn’t had much success with CVTs in the past — the last models to use the transmission were the Five Hundred, Freestyle and Mercury Montego back in 2007 — the automaker is “taking another look, particularly in low torque applications” such as the Fiesta SFE, whose 1-liter EcoBoost is only available with a manual transmission.

As for where Ford will get its new CVTs, Nair didn’t say if the transmission type would be made in-house or obtained from a supplier, as was the case with ZF Friedrichshafen AG in 2007.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

36 Comments on “Nair: Ford Considering CVTs For Future Applications...”


  • avatar
    petezeiss

    For a wretched little “Bad clown, here’s your punishment!” kind of car, that Fiesta is actually pretty handsome.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    They need a transmission for small cars that isn’t the 6 speed Powershift DCT. The whole CVT thing didn’t exactly go well last time though.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I actually thought that unlike so many other of their half baked transmissions that Ford has foisted onto beta-tester consumers, their CVT effort in the first gen 500 and Freestyle was actually not too terrible, at least reliability wise. A colleague of mine was commuter-shopping last month, I steered him well clear of the Powershift Foci (an automatic transmission was a requirement). He ended up with a Sentra SV with Nissan’s fairly tried and true CVT. He’s seeing some fantastic mpg, as high as 42 for some suburban/highway driving.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        There have been class action lawsuits and Ford bailed on it early.

        I think the DCT has been fine after the early Fiestas and Foci. I had an early build Focus Titanium and the transmission was a problem (software and clutch packs). I’ve driven the 2013 and 2014 Foci and the Powershift has gotten much better. Still, I’d take the 5 speed instead. I wouldn’t call the DCT a deal breaker anymore though.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          I drove a recent Focus, and I agree–the DCT is better, but still not great.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The five speed manual is the right option since Ford will let you have it with pretty much everything. It’s hard to find on lots though.

            I’ve been saying for a while that Ford is going to bail on the DCT. It’s only used on only two products in the US, and doesn’t work well with the engine of the future for those vehicles (1.0T). Also, Raj Nair does not like it.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Nissan don’t have CVT where it’s needed most on Canada’s Micra. It will steal some spunk from Fiesta 1.0 round town. But should cut Hwy rpms.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I’ve been driving a CVT, albeit an electrified one in a hybrid, for the last nine months, and I think it’s superior to a conventional automatic. Takeup is smoother and there’s no shift bobble.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Don’t the Ford and Toyota eCVTs have planatary gears in them and just act as power split devices?

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        Pretty much. They are very different than is the CVT in an engine only drivetrain.

        I did have a CVT equipped 2014 Corolla as a rental for a week, and I thought it better than a conventional automatic. The only real issue I saw was that the engine spun up to 4000 rpm with not too much of a press on the accelerator, and the engine was a bit noisier and vibrated more than you’d expect for a modest amount of acceleration. If Toyota is going to have the engine spin up like that for a minor throttle press, they need to work on the NVH at that engine speed as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yes they have a single planetary gear set in them however they really don’t function as a power split device as the manufactures claim. One motor generator is tired directly to the transmission output and the other controls the planetary gear set. In steady state cruise situation when the battery SOC is in the desired range the traction MG supplies the power to run the range MG. The range MG is allowed to spin freely to allow for engine shut down while the vehicle is in motion. It is an excellent, elegant solution to the CVT problem but is not as efficient as other methods of allowing the disconnection of the engine like the clutch that links the engine to the wheels in the current Honda Accord. Too bad that Honda has such poor batteries or else they would have a serious winner on their hands.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Thanks for the response. Can you see Ford or Toyota following Honda’s lead with how the Accord Hybrid fuctions, or do you think they’ll stay with their historically reliable systems?

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            I don’t see the eCVT as used by Ford and Toyota going away in the near term. Long term I can see both of them incorporating some of the concepts that are used in the current Accord.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          here’s a rather detailed description of Ford’s current hybrid transmission.

          http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/pdfs/merit_review_2012/adv_power_electronics/arravt024_ape_poet_2012_p.pdf

          One correction: The current Ford PHEVs are supposed to be capable of going 85 mph under electric power alone. I’ve had mine going 70 in battery mode, and the engine has switched off going down a moderate hill at 75 mph.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            As first introduced the regular hybrid did have a max EV speed of 62mph. However the transaxle was designed for use as is the the plug in version so it was capable of that higher speed. Once the concerns with real world mileage were raised they changed the programing to allow the higher speed engine off operation and EV mode.

            The key thing in the eCVT is the range MG’s critical speed. One way around that is pumping the engine w/o giving it fuel. In our 10 Fusion I’ve had the engine stop burning fuel at 70mph even though it has a max EV speed of 47mph. The trick is to have a battery with a high SOC and using power for the traction MG to run the range MG which in turn pumps the engine that isn’t getting fuel.

  • avatar
    Toad

    CVT’s are an excellent product for virtually all drivers using a car for “normal” duty, and Ford will simply be joining many other manufacturers that have jumped on the CVT bandwagon.

    After reading the book “A Savage Factory” and I would be a little nervous about the quality control in ANY Ford transmission…but the CVT should be no worse than a conventional automatic.

  • avatar
    phargophil

    I have a 2005 Freestyle AWD with the CVT and couldn’t be more pleased with it. 70,000 miles with zero problems. For a 4,000 pound AWD car, it’s giving me 20 mpg city and 24 highway.

    Without having driven 8-, 9-, or 10-speed transmission equipped vehicles, I can’t see how the transmission’s shifting behavior is going to be significantly different in normal driving. In spirited driving I could see where ratio change response would not be as quick, but this car is a daily driver sort, not an autocrosser.

    I just don’t understand the large cheering section for zillion gear transmissions when the CVT does pretty much the same thing.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The Freestyle and Taurus X get about the same fuel economy if you are comparing like models. The Taurus X also has the 3.5L instead of the 3.0L. I don’t mind the CVT, it just didn’t offer any real benefits over the 6F50 transmission. For a comparison, our 4900 pound MkT Ecoboost AWD typically sees 18 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway with the 6F55 transmission.

      I wouldn’t expect to see anything but the GM/Ford 9-speed on FWD/AWD vehciles midsized or above. RWD/AWD vehicles would have the GM/Ford 10-speed. Ford and GM have spent too much money developing those transmissions to dump someone else’s CVT in a Fusion or Malibu.

    • 0 avatar
      Exfordtech

      2008 Taurus X AWD approaching 150k miles without a single hiccup from the 6F50.
      Easily does 25 MPG at a steady 75 MPH and has been consistently 20 MPG overall. Back in the day of the 500/Freestyle the fuel economy returns for the CVT were unremarkable, so why pay ZF when an in house solution exists. Especially considering they had only the 3.0l Duratech vs the much more powerful 3.5l V6 used now. Best automatic trans reliability I’ve ever experienced. Car itself has been so reliable it’s needed nothing but maintenance.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I hear Ford is offering an open beta testing program on these CVTs to the public. Anyone can participate, for a starting entrance fee of about $15,000. Contact your local Ford dealer for details.

    They’re basing this program on the success of the previous DCT rollout.

  • avatar
    Occam

    If I’m not shifting gears myself, I’d prefer a CVT. At the very least, they could add a manual mode with paddles, and have different program options, or even user programmable ratios.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      That Corolla I rented had paddles that changed the map. What I found was that in normal use it did a much better job than I did. If you were doing a little canyon carving it might be useful.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I’d prefer a sliding control. There’s no reason to use paddles and fixed ratios when you could just slide the ratio up and down, or arbitrarily lock it in place.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      My Outback has the CVT with paddles. Cute toy for the first few times, but then I go back to letting the transmission do it’s own thing. The paddles do pep up your upshift/downshift.

      All in all, getting use to a CVT took me all of a day and I just forget it’s there. Even though I have the 4 cyl, the drivetrain handles everyday driving with no issues.

      Not sure what all the CVT hate is about. My BIL says his new Accord’s CVT is a wonder…

  • avatar
    redav

    I’ll rock the boat a bit and say that the transmission I prefer most a one-speed attached to an electric motor.

    The only reason we have transmissions at all is because the engine doesn’t have the combo of operating range (particularly at ultra low speeds) & torque to power a vehicle across its whole speed range. The transmission is a band aid to address that shortcoming.

  • avatar
    George B

    I’m starting to appreciate the CVT in my 2014 Accord. Achieves excellent fuel economy in actual suburban traffic while being reasonably responsive to accelerator pedal inputs. Probably the right choice for a car primarily used for commuting.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      George B, there’s no doubt that CVTs are the wave of the future. But we should all hope that some day soon they will have improved to the same level of reliability as the hydraulic step automatics are today.

      My experience with CVTs goes back to 1972 and the old DAF cars that were touted as the new, improved VW Bug. Turned out, the CVT was the weakest link of the car.

      Maybe metallurgy and hydraulic-cone technology have improved by now.

  • avatar

    I feel like either CVT or Powershift would be a fine transmission if they just stuck with one and improved it over time. We have a Powershift ’14 Focus and haven’t had any issues with it, though we are past the build dates of the original seal that seems to have caused issues in early ones. For my Fiesta, I opted for the 5spd manual, really it wasn’t an option for me. I did have to dealer trade for it, we don’t order many manuals for our stock. To get a fully loaded Titanium you’d almost have to factory order, and you might as well if you’re spending the extra money, get what you want.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    Good! Nissan extracts astonishing real-world highway MPG from the Altima simply by using a CVT. This enables them to keep using a very big non-turbo 4-cylinder, which — compared to an alternative MPG strategy, the Fusion’s 1.5 liter turbo four — is less expensive to build, buy, maintain, and repair, and is more responsive from a dead stop as well.

    Put both strategies together, though — Ford’s tiny turbomotors and a decent CVT — and you’d surely see some impressive MPGs.

    Like others, I’ve had delightful experiences with eCVTs in hybrids, and conventional CVTs in Nissan products (in the Altima more so than the Maxima).

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • SCE to AUX: “more chargers at work” My office has zero chargers for ~700 workers. We have maybe 4 BEVs in...
  • multicam: Oh my god, it’s so hard to care… when’s the shoe going to drop on this climate change #%[email protected]? I...
  • multicam: Jeep responded to the Bronco before it even made it to production with the 4xE, the diesel, and the 392....
  • dal20402: Nope. It’d probably be a Honda, but if it were a Nissan it’d be a stick-equipped Maxima.
  • VWGolfGuy: If they installed more chargers at work I’d buy a Bolt. Think it is a good blend of the leafs low cost and...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber