First FWD hybrid transmission produced in North America

The Econ-O-Matic

These may be the dog days of summer with a dearth of new vehicle announcements, but that shouldn't lessen the impact behind a recent announcement from Ford Motor Company.

To wit: late last week the company announced that production had commenced on the only front-wheel-drive hybrid transmission produced in North America.

"Our investments in Van Dyke Transmission make it our most advanced, efficient transmission plant in the world," said Jim Tetreault, vice president of North America Manufacturing. "This demonstrates our commitment to bringing jobs and technology back into Ford and North America – actions that not only benefit our employees but our customers and the communities where we do business."

Called the HF35 (we remember when trannys were given glorified names like "Ford-O-Matic" and "Cruise-O-Matic." Heck, even the current dual clutch is called "PowerShift." Our suggestion is to call it the "Econ-O-Matic."), Ford's previous hybrid transmission production was handled by Japanese supplier Aisin.


According to Ford, just by bringing design and development in-house, the company realized a 20 percent savings.

In addition to incorporating two electric motors, innovations in the HF35 include:

•    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

The HF35 will, according to Ford, be used in the following vehicles:

•    C-MAX Hybrid: Coming this fall; projected 47 mpg city, 3 mpg better than Toyota Prius v
•    Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid: Coming this fall; projected to deliver 550 miles of total range, including more than 20 miles in electric-only mode – nearly double the electric-only range of the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid
•    All-new Fusion Hybrid: Coming this fall; projected 47 mpg expected to beat Toyota Camry Hybrid by 5 mpg highway
•    Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid: Will begin production by the end of this year; aiming to be the most fuel-efficient midsize car in the world with more than 100 MPGe
•    Lincoln MKZ Hybrid: Coming later this year; projected to remain America's most fuel-efficient midsize premium sedan.