Ford Newest Patent Hints at New Type of Manual

Ford filed a new patent for a manual transmission that could make all the difference to those who want to drive a stick but can’t.

Driving a car with a traditional manual transmission is difficult for some people to learn. Even though the manual transmission was the first type of transmission used, we’ve grown so accustomed to having cars that handle shifting for us that many people don’t learn how to row the gear any longer. Most companies have done away with the stick shift, but Ford has not.

Ford Only Offers a Manual Transmission for Fun

Today, only two Ford vehicles offer a manual transmission as an option. The Mustang and Bronco are the only models where you can feel the traditional drive of shifting gears on your own. Even though this feature is only for these two models, it seems Ford is ready to allow more drivers the pleasure of becoming more engaged with their vehicle during a drive. This new type of manual could change the game for drivers that haven’t mastered a traditional form of shifting but want the experience.

Keep the Feet Out of It

The new Ford patent filed is for a manual transmission that doesn’t require the use of the clutch pedal. In the patent, the pedal will still be present, but the car can handle engaging and disengaging the clutch by sensing when the driver will shift. This could change the game for people who have never mastered using a third pedal in a manual transmission vehicle. No more dancing around with three pedals; with this new transmission, drivers can have all the fun without the challenge of maneuvering an extra pedal while also shifting gears.

You’ve Heard of Steer By-Wire, this is Clutch By-Wire

With the option to use the clutch pedal or allow the vehicle to sense the movement and handle the shifting for you, it’s much easier to have the right gear and avoid stalling that comes with novice drivers of manual-transmission vehicles. This new operation was part of the old Volkswagen Autostick setup that used vacuum actuation and a torque converter to allow the vehicle to idle. A standing idle takes place for the Ford models with a disengaged clutch. This new manual could bring back this type of transmission for a short period of time.

Another aspect of this new Ford patent describes controlling the clutch via a sensor in the shifter handle grip. When the driver grabs the handle, the car can assume a gear change is about to happen and operate smoothly. We’ve already seen some manual transmission systems that don’t have a clutch pedal at all; the Hyundai Venue sold in India has a stick and electronic clutch but does not have a pedal, but we haven’t had a system with an optional pedal. This system could entice an entire market of drivers to either use the clutch or forget it and enjoy driving a car they can row the gears on.

Is this Ford Plan Too Late?

Wait a minute, isn’t the automotive world moving toward electric vehicles? It is, and these vehicles don’t require a manual transmission at all. In fact, most EV models have a single gear setup and don’t shift from one gear to the other. Only a handful use a two-gear system, in which the vehicle handles the job of shifting gears. Why is Ford putting this patent together for a system that might only last a few years?

The answer is fun.

The Fun Factor is Important in the Mustang and Bronco

What comes to mind when you think of the Ford Mustang or the Ford Bronco? The Mustang is one of the most highly-respected and desired sports cars in history. Even the base model is fun to drive, with more than 300 horsepower, dynamic performance features, and a build that makes you want to rip and roar down the road. This is a car that still turns heads and makes us want to get in and go for a drive with no destination in mind.

The Bronco, although a new member of the market with a classic name, is made to tackle the wilderness. This impressive off-road SUV can take you to the remote stretches of the beach where other vehicles can’t go, it can aid you in finding the deepest part of the forest, or it can be the SUV you use to reach your favorite campground. Having a manual transmission in this off-road SUV seems like a must, especially if Jeep continues to offer this feature for the Wrangler. The fun factor heightens with the addition of a manual transmission that you use to select the right gear.

A Few Years are Better Than None

It’s possible Ford chose to file this new patent, thinking that a few years of offering a specialized manual transmission will be better than none at all. The market goal that is being tossed around is a fully-electric auto industry by 2035, but that could easily be pushed back by events that happen in the future. This new plan by Ford shows they are thinking about the vehicles they have now and how to make them better and more fun for drivers before the new world of EVs arrives.

When Might We See the New Manual Transmission?

A new version of the Ford Mustang scheduled for the 2024 model year, is likely when we will see this new manual transmission offered. Will this Ford patent become a feature that is a hit among Mustang drivers around the country? Could this feature become an afterthought and not what some drivers want to see? We won’t know for sure until it arrives, but taking away the foot dance that drivers have to do, might be all that is needed to increase the fun for those who want a more engaging drive but don’t know how to drive a stick.

Will you choose a new 2024 Ford Mustang with this brand-new manual transmission when it arrives?

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