Ford Engineer on the DPS6 Transmission:
“I Wouldn’t Put My Kid in One of Those Cars.”

by Aryn Plax

Mar 16, 2020

Engineers involved in the development of the 6 Speed Dual Clutch Automatic (DPS6) transmissions installed in 2011–2016 Ford Fiesta and 2012–2016 Ford Focus vehicles thought that the transmission design was a “mechanical catastrophe.” In spite of this, Ford told them to keep quiet.

“We’d raise our hands and be told, ‘Don’t be naysayers,’” a key engineer told Detroit Free Press. “We got strange comments. It seemed the ship had sailed. After that, if you ask questions, you’re accused of mutiny, so you put your head down and make it work. Good people tried to make it work. But you can’t violate the laws of physics.”

The transmission system was advertised to have improved fuel economy, the efficiency of a manual transmission, and the ease of an automatic transmission. The transmission was equipped not with a torque converter, as one would find in an automatic transmission, but instead a dual-clutch system.

To increase efficiency, Ford opted to use a dry clutch – a decision criticized by engineers.

“What in the world are you thinking going with a dry clutch?” one engineer asked. “The friction coefficient is inconsistent and it creates problems. But this was someone’s baby. If a manager came up with an idea, people would be afraid to say no. At first, it was just on paper. Someone should have said something. They should have. The idea should’ve been killed.”

By the time problems appeared in transmissions, Ford had already spent a lot of money on the project. Fixes to this transmission would be particularly expensive, noted one engineer. In spite of these recurring issues, Ford released the lineups anyway.

One of Ford’s mechanical experts warned close friends about the dangers of the vehicle.

“I told one friend that if he loved his stepdaughter, he’d get her out of that Fiesta as quick as possible,” the expert told Detroit Free Press. “I wouldn’t put my kid in one of those cars.”