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Ford continues to work its marketing magic, directing focus away from the fact that its shutting-down the Mercury brand and putting the spotlight on a bright future for Lincoln. The Blue Oval has announced that by the end of this year production of Mercury models will cease, helping Ford reduce costs while and put more cash and engineering expertise into the Lincoln brand. For years Mercury has struggled, sitting half-way between the established “common-man” Ford brand and the quasi-luxury Lincoln brand. And with Lincoln still struggling to establish itself as a true luxury automaker, Mercury fell considerably short in this respect.
“Profitably growing Lincoln in North America is an important part of our One Ford plan,” said Alan Mulally, Ford president and CEO. “Our Ford brand is gaining momentum and winning customers around the world. Now, we are going to use the same laser focus to further strengthen Lincoln and deliver even more products luxury customers really want and value.”
As for the future of Lincoln, Ford has given a rather thorough look at just what to expect. First is the introduction of a new compact model, possibly inspired by the C Concept (above), but also likely based on the all-new Focus platform. Lincoln also aims to put the focus on fuel economy by offering EcoBoost engines in every model – including the next-generation Navigator full-size SUV.
In addition, Ford has announced it is developing new “Lincoln-exclusive” powertrains including an all-new V6 engine as well as new fuel-efficient transmissions (dual-clutch? 8-speed?).
Ford will look to build Lincoln into the most fuel efficient luxury brand, competing mostly with Cadillac and Lexus, delivering what it calls “fuel economy leadership” with each new model.
Official release after the jump:
When Ford showcased the Lincoln C Concept at the 2009 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, we commented that we’d love to see a model from the blue oval that used such a dual-clutch transmission. Apparently we will be getting out wish.
Ford has just announced that in 2010 it will bring a six-speed dual-clutch transmission to market in the small-car segment. Operating much like VW’s DSG system, Ford is highlighting the fuel-efficiency of the new PowerShift transmission, although it will also make for improved performance, offering shift times faster than a manual but operating much like a automatic (with, we presume, the ability to shift gears manually through paddle shifters).
Instead of re-hashing the press release, we’ll let the Ford PR folks do the talking as they managed to quite succinctly sum up how the system works.
“PowerShift provides the full comfort of an automatic with a more sophisticated driving dynamic, thanks to uninterrupted torque from the dual-clutch technology, which consists essentially of two manual transmissions working in parallel, each with its own independent clutch unit. One clutch carries the uneven gears – 1, 3 and 5 – while the other the even gears – 2, 4 and 6. Subsequent gear changes are coordinated between both clutches as they engage and disengage for a seamless delivery of torque to the wheels.”
Currently Ford offers a similar setup in the Focus in Europe. That transmission is, however, a wet clutch dual-clutch system whereas the PowerShift will be a dry clutch unit.
The PowerShift dual-clutch transmission is just one way that Ford intends to significantly reduce overall fuel-consumption as the company plans to equip all of it’s models with six-speed transmissions by 2013.
While dual-clutch transmissions have both fuel economy and performance advantages, Ford has designed its PowerShift unit with several other unique features. They are:
• Neutral coast down – The clutches will disengage when the brakes are applied, improving coasting downshifts and clutch robustness as well as reducing parasitic losses for increased fuel economy.
• Precise clutch control in the form of a clutch slip to provide torsional damping of the engine vibration – This function improves noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) at low engine speeds and enables lower lugging limits for improved fuel economy.
• Low-speed driving or creep mode with integrated brake pressure – This function simulates the low-speed control drivers are accustomed to from an automatic transmission. The amount of rolling torque in Drive and Reverse is precisely controlled, gradually building as brake pressure is released.
• Hill mode or launch assist – Prevents a vehicle from rolling back on a grade by maintaining brake pressure until the engine delivers enough torque to move the vehicle up the hill, providing improved driver confidence, comfort, safety and clutch robustness.
Official release after the jump: