Automatic transmissions the way forward: experts

The India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), and Auto Cluster Development & Research Institute with the support of the Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises, organised a seminar on ‘Future trends in automotive transmission technology’ that saw experts and industry stakeholders come together at the Auto Cluster Exhibition Center, Chinchwad, Pune, on October 25.

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 06 Nov 2013 Views icon6174 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
The India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), and Auto Cluster Development & Research Institute with the support of the Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises, organised a seminar on ‘Future trends in automotive transmission technology’ that saw experts and industry stakeholders come together at the Auto Cluster Exhibition Center, Chinchwad, Pune, on October 25.

The well-attended forum saw industry specialists – Sameer Puranik, deputy GM (Transmission - ERC) of Tata Motors; Shrikant S Bairagi, managing director, Tremec India; Mandeep Bhalla, CEO and senior vice-president, ZF India; Gayanand Jha, GM, Engineering Centre, Voith Turbo and S S Udgata, head, Tech Centre, RSB Transmissions India, discuss the opportunities and challenges of the Indian market. The debate was moderated by Sumantra Barooah, associate editor, Autocar Professional.

Pay more for ATs

While growth in India’s automotive market is seeing a bumpy ride thanks to high interest rates and rising fuel prices, industry experts did not hesitate to place their bets on the long term’s lucrative prospects. So while buyers footfalls are currently down, should the OEMs expect them to pay the premium for superior technology such as automatic transmission?

Discussing trends in transmission applications, Puranik said, “Customer decisions depend on a blend of cost of ownership and the cost of acquisition. The customers will always opt for the right mix. India has always been the market for manual transmissions and, therefore, all transmission manufacturers have been working on improving MTs. So logically, the next step would be the acceptance of automated manual transmissions or AMTs – also called semi-automatic transmission, or the evolution of MTs and AMTs in the form of dual clutch transmission (DCTs) may take place. DCTs are more efficient in their performance.”



Bairagi, on the other hand, emphasised the value-for-money aspect saying that ‘the buyer would pay the premium if he realises that the technology is good and is value for money for him.” Bhalla of ZF India said “human aspirations change rapidly while developing and achieving mass acceptance of a superior technology which comes for a premium takes time. I see ATs as hitting the Indian roads in sizable volumes very soon with maximum applications coming in passenger cars.”

One reason for ATs not being popular, according to Udgata is, “Most car drivers in India have not had the experience of driving an AT-equipped small car in city driving conditions. Besides Hyundai’s i10, we don’t even have other options in the segment which sells the most. However, I see that the dynamics will change with time.” Lastly, Jha of Voith India added that “as we move to stricter emission norms, the market would gradually accept the ATs.”

On the challenge for clutch attenuation, Puranik said that “with more ratios, transmission becomes more sensitive to the engine. While we are now witnessing more efficient engines (four -cylinders being replaced by the three-cylinders), we need new clutch configurations.”

Further he added, “Just as the hybrid is the future of powertrains, the transmission systems would become more compact with multiple shaft transaxles, increased number of ratio steps and would come with compact installation.”



Innovations

Highlighting an innovation in transmission technology at Tremec Torque Transfer Solutions, Bairagi spoke about virtually dry-wet dual clutch transmission. Elaborating, he said, “In a DCT, a dry clutch is used for low torque applications (less than 250Nm) while a wet clutch is used for high torque applications (more than 250Nm).

Though the cost and power losses are low on dry clutch, wet clutches have a higher capacity and provide better torque control. We have combined the benefits of both – dry and wet clutch technologies into a new design at Tremec.”

Tremec’s innovative design allows for the clutches to get oil only when the cooling is required. Once the clutches reach steady state temperature, oil is drained out (thus reducing the drag and loss of power) and cooling is stopped. The company has developed an oil distribution mechanism to ensure equally distributed temperature throughout the clutch pack.

Explaining the technology, Bairagi said that Tremec’s virtually dry-wet dual clutch transmission technology not only provides for high efficiency but excellent torque control and shift quality, higher thermal capacity (as heat is dissipated into the oil) and is lower on weight and size parameters.

Mandeep Bhalla, CEO and senior VP, ZF India, spoke about his company’s innovative transmission platform called Traxon Automatic Transmission, which is slated for a 2014 launch. It has been developed on dual-clutch module (TraxonDual) as well as hybrid module (TraxonHybrid). “Based on integrated mechatronic system, the new platform can further reduce the fuel consumption,” he revealed.
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