In the never-ending pursuit of efficiency, performance and smooth power delivery, the next step forward for many automakers is the adoption of the dual clutch transmission. Once the province of high-end performance cars, dual clutch transmissions have been finding their way into everyday vehicles from Volkswagen, Volvo, Audi and more for years. Ford has now announced that it has started production of its own dual clutch transmission and the first car in the Blue Oval’s fleet to receive the fuel saving device will be the humble 2011 Ford Fiesta.

The corporate technology behind the new transmission is dubbed PowerShift, and Volvo has already been using it for the past year. The particular unit being produced by Ford is a six-speed fully automatic dual clutch transmission that will eventually appear across most of the automaker’s product portfolio.

Offering better fuel economy than a conventional manual transmission, the new PowerShift unit’s characteristics are particularly well-suited to smaller car applications, making the transmission a perfect fit for Fiesta and the upcoming 2012 Ford Focus.

Ford PowerShift dual clutch transmission

Ford PowerShift dual clutch transmission

According to Ford, the PowerShift dual clutch transmission will help the 1.6-liter Fiesta deliver an expected best-in-class fuel economy rating of at least 40 mpg on the highway.

Ford is building the PowerShift dual clutch transmission with its technology partner GETRAG at a plant in Irapuato, Mexico. The unit itself features a ‘dry’ dual clutch design that manages to eliminate the additional weight and complexity of a torque converter, planetary gears and the fluid pumps employed in conventional automatics. Its key characteristic is the seamless flow of torque and virtually instant shift times.

Sales of the 2011 Ford Fiesta with the six-speed PowerShift dual clutch transmission will start this summer.