It’s always a risk for an automaker to undertake innovative moves. There is always the probability of success and failure. More often than not, failures result in big loss. That is evident with Ford Motor Company. In 2011 and 2012, Ford released models of Fiesta and Focus, respectively, with its Powershift dual-clutch semi-automatic transmission.
A dual-clutch transmission has two clutches. Each one controls its specific set of gears. In Ford’s PowerShift transmission, one clutch operates the even numbered gears while the other clutch operates the odd numbered gears. Both clutches share the same inner transmission shaft. These transmission units have allegedly violated consumer laws because of setbacks that effected to sudden or delayed acceleration and difficulty in bringing the vehicle to a stop when brakes are engaged. There were also issues like clutch shuddering while shifting gears. One possible reason for this shudder during gear changes is that the clutch could be slipping. According to reports, the problem may also have occurred due to fluid contamination of the clutch brought about by leaking transmission seals.
The lawsuit stated that an ‘automated manual’ transmission like the PowerShift transmission should have the expediency of an automatic transmission without sacrificing fuel efficiency and shift speed of a manually shifted vehicle. On the contrary, Ford’s PowerShift transmission has not met these expectations and was beleaguered by numerous problems and safety concerns, rendering the vehicle unsafe to drive.
In Australia, more than 60,000 Ford cars with PowerShift transmission were released from 2011 to 2014. The transmissions were installed in their Fiesta hatchback, Focus small car and Ecosport SUV units. According to Bannister Law, the Australian firm proposing the class action against Ford, the cars released have defective transmissions because it slips, bucks, jerks, and harshly engages when driven. The class action would demand for full refund of the purchase price, damages resulting from repair costs and out-of-pocket expenditures, and aggravated compensation for inconvenience, stress, and humiliation.
On the other hand, Ford Australia issued a statement that they are dedicated to providing their customers with top quality vehicles. And that they are equally committed to addressing potential issues and respond quickly to their customers’ concerns. They also stated that they have already addressed majority of their customers’ queries and clients are pleased with their ongoing improvement in customer satisfaction. They still asserted that Ford’s “PowerShift” transmission utilizes an advanced configuration that offers exceptional powertrain efficiency, and that unique shift feel compared with conventional automatics. To pacify their clients, they extended the warranties of these PowerShift-equipped vehicles after several consumer complaints.
Meanwhile, several car owners in US also filed a class action lawsuit against the motor company in the Central District of California for allegedly violating several consumer laws. The petitioners asserted the same problems that were encountered by Ford cars bearing PowerShift Transmission in Australia. The complaint also states that the transmission has premature internal wear, encountered sudden and delayed acceleration, delay in downshifts, difficulty in stopping the vehicle, and enduring catastrophic failure. According to complainants, Ford aggressively concealed the transmission defect by informing customers that the symptoms linked with the transmission defect were just normal driving conditions. They were never advised of any known problems related with the PowerShift transmission.