Ford will make a new dual-clutch six-speed transmission, called PowerShift, standard on all small cars sold in North America. PowerShift will appear beginning with the 2010 model year.

Ford will be putting dual-clutch transmissions on all small car models sold in North America. The PowerShift dual-clutch six-speed transmissions will become the standard automatic transmissions for this segment of Ford vehicles beginning with the 2010 model year.

The company's decision was to offer a "best of both worlds" scenario for drivers who do not enjoy manual transmissions. PowerShift's system allows for gear changes with uninterrupted torque, allowing for a nine per-cent improvement in fuel efficiency when compared to the current Ford automatic four-speed transmission. Ford is basically trying to bridge the mileage gap between manuals and automatics.

Currently, the twin wet-clutch version of PowerShift is available on the European 2.0-liter TDCI Ford Focus. Across the pond, PowerShift will be dry-clutch, where two separate transmissions work together, using their own clutch units. A dry-clutch unit uses "manual transmission clutch facings", instead of clutch plates submerged in oil, to transfer power. This means the unit works even without an oil pump or torque converter. "This advanced six-speed is an improvement over today's automatic transmissions in terms of fuel economy, while providing customers an even more fun-to-drive experience," said Barb Samardzich, vp of Ford Global Powertrain Engineering.

Ford has also sealed the system, to keep it as dry as possible. The result should mean a relatively maintenance free transmission. Other features include clutch disengagement to improve downshifts when braking, and hill mode, which keeps the car from rolling backwards when climbing a hill.

Gallery: Ford Officially Confirm Dual-Clutch PowerShift gearbox for U.S. in 2010