New automatic transmission for Ford Transit and Transit Custom

  • New six-speed auto for Transit Custom and Transit
  • Developed in North America and used in Ford Explorer
  • Available to order from around September 2016

Ford is launching a new automatic transmission for the Ford Transit and Ford Transit Custom.

The six-speed transaxle (transmission, differential and driven axle components) will be available to order in the Transit and Transit Custom from around September 2016.

Niche but growing market

Despite the growing number of vans designated for inner-city courier work, automatic transmissions are still quite a niche proposition for vans of this size. Most manufacturers don’t offer autos in medium and large vans, and the problematic Durashift of the third generation was the last time Ford offered one on the Transit.

Now however Ford says it has identified a growing demand. It will be offering the six speed transaxle, that has been developed in North America and used on vehicles such as the Ford Taurus and Ford Explorer, on the Transit Custom and front-wheel drive versions of the Ford Transit.

A proven performer

The six-speed transaxle has been at work in American Fords for a decade, and is renowned for its quick and smooth gearshifts. This is because it uses a fluid coupling (called the torque converter clutch design) rather than the traditional mechanical clutch. It is also very durable and has a torque capacity of more than 415Nm.

For Transit applications, Ford has optimised the shift programme to get the most from the newly-developed 2-litre EcoBlue diesel, using early upshifts and the locking torque converter feature to maximise fuel economy.

Ford hasn’t stated the official fuel economy figures, but based on the CO2 emissions of 174g/km for the Ford Transit Custom and 189g/km for Transit, we imagine it will be less fuel-efficient than manual transmissions at about 40mpg and 36mpg respectively.

Intelligent design

A number of intelligent features have also been introduced to make the new vehicles easier to drive. For example, the transmission can detect when the vehicle is on roads with steep gradients, or has heavy loads, and adjusts the shifting strategy for optimum performance.

The adaptive learning feature allows the transmission to adapt its shift performance and how frequently it changes gears over the lifetime of the vehicle based on how the vehicle is driven. Plus the SelectShift facility allows the driver to manually change gears if they prefer.

Pricing and availability

Customers can expect to pay a £1,000 and £1,500 premium for the new six-speed auto. The first Transit Custom and Transit automatics should be arriving at Transit Centres by September 2016.

Also read:

Ford Transit review

Ford Transit Custom review