Magneti Marelli Powertrain India, a joint venture between Magneti Marelli, the component arm of Fiat SpA of Italy, Maruti Suzuki and Suzuki Motor Company, has inaugurated its first automated manual transmission (AMT) plant at Manesar, near Gurgaon. Located within the Maruti Suzuki campus in the township, it is part of the same premises of Magneti Marelli that houses its electronic control unit facility.
Involving an investment of Rs 150 crore, the plant kicked off production in July this year with supplies to Maruti Suzuki having commenced since August. The start of production of the AMT kits locally is expected to bring down the long waiting periods for car models fitted with these gearboxes. Currently, demand for Maruti cars fitted with AMTs has crossed over 25 percent of the total demand.
According to Saju Mookken, country manager and MD of Magneti Marelli India, the plant has been constructed within a record nine-month period. Starting with an initial production capacity of 10,000 units monthly, it will reach full capacity of 280,000 units per annum by end of 2016 or early 2017.
The component supplier commenced supplies of AMTs from its Italian plant to Maruti Suzuki since end- 2013 for its Celerio and Alto models and also for the Tata Zest and Nano models. Mookken says that the Italian plant will continue to supplement AMT supplies to car manufacturers in India in addition to the AMTs supplied from the Manesar plant as per demand.
AMTs will be supplied to the A, B and entry level C-segment models though Mookken adds that light commercial vehicles or pick-ups are also on their radar.
Use of AMTs helps reduce the running cost of a vehicle and fuel consumption by around 5 percent as also cuts emissions by 5-10 percent compared to manual transmissions. With the new AMT plant, Magneti Marelli India is beefing up its automation readiness in gearboxes. At present the AT transmission market is pegged at 4-5 percent of the total and is expected to spike up to 30 percent by 2020.
Magneti Marelli’s new AMT facility is spread across 7,500 square metres and employs 115 people. The AMT technology, which has been sourced from Italy, has been customised for the Indian market and will not be exported as of now. The technology is based on the use of an ECU combined with an electro-hydraulic system that controls the use of the clutch when changing gears allowing the driver to shift gears without the use of the clutch either sequentially or in a fully automatic way.