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      03-15-2011, 12:11 PM   #127
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Originally Posted by mkoesel View Post
Yeah, for the masses, I definitely see things going increasingly in the direction Ford seems to be headed with their PowerShift marketing:

Lot's of interesting language in there - interesting from a mass marketing perspective, I mean. Some things stick out like:

"Ford Six-Speed PowerShift Automatic"
"Ford's new dual-clutch PowerShift automatic..."
"PowerShift is an automatic because the gear changes are coordinated by a computer that directs the clutches to engage and disengage in a way that provides seamless delivery of torque to the wheels, even during gear changes."

They really are gearing up to convince buyers this is a very fancy new type of automatic transmission.

For enthusiasts and for marketing of performance related vehicles I could see the term "automatic" perhaps being avoided as much as possible especially in the near term. But if DCTs do start to steal significant marketshare away from traditional automatics in basic appliance-type applications (which is by no means guaranteed, granted), accompanied with marketing campaigns and press releases like the one above, I think the momentum will be become tough to overcome such that eventually most everyone will just give in and call them automatics. I don't mean OEMs will necessarily only refer to them as such - they'll probably have tidy marketing names like Fords. But they probably won't waste too much money painstakingly trying to avoid associating them with the term "automatic" at all costs. After all, like I say, the point of the marketing from Ford (and probably others to follow, I suspect) is to convince everyone that these are some damn fine automatics. So nothing to be ashamed of there. And there's going to be a lot dollars spent on that message. As a player in the same industry at some point you may just find it in your best interest stop fighting those dollars and start piggybacking off of them.

True enough although BMW has attached the term to only one type of transmission - a planetary automatic. In that sense it has a deterministic meaning, even though its just a jargon. I notice with the new 8 speed they seem to have retired the Steptronic brand now and they seem content to just call it the automatic or sport automatic. Like you say in your last post, if the F10 m5 shows up with the 8 speed auto too, it will be interesting to see how they pitch it. They could very well refer to it like they do in the X5/X6 M - "M Sport Automatic"
You and Swamp have both contributed to a very informative discussion.


On the naming trends, it seems as if both BMW and Porsche have badly missed the boat, but marketing types have tried to distinguish their products with all sorts of terms, starting with "Hydramatic" of course. I assume that name was designed to highlight the fluid clutch in that unit. As automatics became more popular, we were treated to jargon like "Powerflite", "Torqueflite" (Chrysler), "Powerglide", "Turboglide" (Chevy), "Turbo Hydramatic", "Roto Hydramatic" (other GM), "Fordomatic" (I assume the marketing department was off that day) and "Cruise-O-Matic" from Ford, and, my favorite of all time, "Flight-O-Matic" from Studebaker, I think.

Fanciful naming continues today, of course.

As an aside, it's also been common to differentiate between even stick transmissions. Beginning in the '50s, "stick" wasn't enough. It became "three speed", "four speed", "three on the tree", "four on the floor", etc.

Then Ford came out with their "Top Loader" four speed, named for its internal linkage.


Even today, folks tend to differentiate. For example, when people ask me what type of transmission I have in my Subie, I'll refer to it as a six-speed.

Of course, this can lead to confusion. I've been privy to a conversation between 3 series owners, wherein one said he had a six speed, and the other said "They're both six speed. Which one do you have?"