Ford Builds Only FWD Hybrid Transmission To Be Made in North America
Published August 2, 2012
By Philippe Crowe
Ford’s hybrid strategy involves creating its own transmission and it will be built in the U.S.
The automakers and suppliers are investing $ 220 million to transform Van Dyke Transmission into a modern operation capable of producing Ford’s new hybrid transmission – known as HF35 – as well as other fuel-efficient transmissions. The investments are part of a $ 632 million commitment Ford and its suppliers are making to increase capacity and flexibility at three North American transmission facilities by 2015.
Ford’s Van Dyke Transmission Plant is located in Sterling Heights, Mich.
The HF35 transmission, which incorporates two electric motors, is the first hybrid transmission to be designed and built by Ford. Previously, hybrid transmission production was handled by a supplier in Japan. By bringing the development work in-house, Ford reduced development costs 20 percent.
Investments at Van Dyke include manufacturing, capital equipment, launch and engineering costs, and supplier tooling upgrades. New flexible equipment allows the plant to build both HF35 and 6F, a conventional six-speed automatic transmission, at the same time.
Ford engineered the HF35 and upgraded the controls with a goal of creating the industry’s highest-performing, smoothest-operating hybrid transmission. Ford lists the following among this hybrid transmission’s innovations:
• Electric motors capable of operating at higher electric speeds
• A super-efficient new cooling system that enables higher speeds in electric drive
• Optimized gear ratios enabling improvement in fuel economy
• More precise controls to deliver higher levels of refinement as the powertrain transitions between engine and electric drive
• Reduced weight to help increase fuel economy
A lot revolves around this transmission as the HF35 will be used in five electrified vehicles being introduced this year: the C-MAX Hybrid; the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid; the 2013 Fusion Hybrid; the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid; and derived from the Fusion, the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.