Motivo developed a new transmission controller for Ford's 6-Speed transmission

Our client develops electric vehicles for government and service fleets. Their vehicles are not only environmentally-friendly, but also cost significantly less to operate than compressed natural gas (CNG) or diesel-powered vehicles. They approached Motivo for support with a new transmission controller for their latest fleet of vehicles.


The client approached Motivo with an existing five-speed transmission Ford donor vehicle, which was currently in use across their fleet. Not only were there issues with their current shift quality, but Ford switched to a new 6-speed transmission. The new transmission needed to be calibrated to be both efficient and shift smoothly to minimize passenger discomfort.


The Ford six-speed transmission is designed for use with an internal combustion engine, instead of an electric motor, which posed unique challenges for this project. The vehicle needed to maintain an “OEM” level of shifting – smooth transitions, quick shifts, no audible grinding, and minimal wear on the system as a whole. As of the start of the project, no aftermarket tuners had reverse engineered and re-calibrated the transmission. The project was also extremely urgent, since the client was forced to purchase expensive five-speed transmissions to use until the 6 speed was ready.


Motivo ran the project in phases to accelerate the delivery timeline and to meet the unique challenges of this project. First, a test bench was designed and assembled to quickly test the new controller software. Next, the new controller was tested on the vehicle unloaded, and then at low speed. Lastly, extensive testing and tuning was performed by Motivo to improve the shift quality at higher speeds on nearby roads and freeways. This allowed for close collaboration with the client, desired shift parameters were fine-tuned based on real-world feedback from customers.

In order to reverse engineer the shift logic and investigate the solenoid actuations, Motivo used a donor vehicle that had the same transmission installed. Woodward’s Motohawk suite, a widely-used automotive software programming package, was used to develop the custom transmission controller


Motivo produced a working control unit that met the original shifting quality in less than 4 months; we have since continued to tune the transmission to meet the requirements specific use cases for the end users.