I’d call it an open secret in the world of cars but for the fact that everyone knows about it: the dual-clutch transmission in the last-generation Ford Fiesta and Focus was an utter disaster. The gearboxes are plagued with problems like sudden acceleration, sputtering, and slipping into neutral at highway speed.
Now, a thorough investigation by the Detroit Free Press based on internal documents, emails and court records reveals that Ford knew about these problems—potentially dangerous problems that have led to 50 previously unreported injuries, by the newspaper’s count—through engineer and lawyer warnings, but sold them anyway.
The story centers on the DPS6 transmission, also called the Ford PowerShift transmission, a six-speed dual-clutch automatic found on the 2012-present Focus, 2010-present Fiesta and other cars sold in the past decade. (Both the Ford and Fiesta are being phased out in the U.S.) Yet the Freep estimates 1.5 million cars still on the road have this gearbox, and many of their owners continue to experience problems.
In the years since the cars went on sale, Ford has faced class action lawsuits in the United States and other countries, fines in Australia, countless owner complaints and endless criticism. Yet while the Focus and Fiesta have been recalled for other defects, the DPS6 itself has never been recalled.