The automotive industry has witnessed considerable advancements in transmission technology over the years, with automated manual transmission gaining increasing acceptance in the Indian market. Amidst this industry scenario, Auto Tech Review organised the 2nd edition of Transmission.tech on April 18, 2018 in New Delhi. The day-long conference-cum-mini exhibition brought forth wide-ranging perspectives from leading OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers and engineering companies on future transmission technologies and roadmap.
Following the success of its inaugural edition last year, Transmission.tech, the country’s only dedicated technology conference-cum-mini exhibition on automotive transmissions, was held on April 18, 2018 with the industry participating and partaking in deliberations in large numbers. This was also the first time an exhibition was held alongside the daylong conference. The conference featured three highly engaging sessions focussed on transmissions for new energy vehicles (NEVs), commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles.
In his inaugural address, Dr Arun Jaura, Conference Chairman and Managing Director, Michelin Indian Technology Centre talked about how the ‘Pentagon of Mobility’ has habituated an innovative mindset among the transmission fraternity and offered a competitive edge to auto manufacturers.
Transmission.tech 2018 also marked the unveiling of a Global Powertrain Outlook 2018 report by global market research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, who was also the Knowledge Partner to the conference. The report offered deep insights into the engine and transmission technologies development driven by regulations and changing customer perceptions. Kaushik Madhavan, Director, Mobility South Asia, Frost & Sullivan presented the findings of the study to the audience.
Automated Manual Transmissions (AMT) are becoming popular in India because customers largely do not quite enjoy the frequent application of the clutch, said Madhavan. He stated that the long-standing perception about ATs being a fuel-guzzler and maintenance-heavy is steadily tapering-off, and added that AMTs provide the perfect balance of fuel economy and comfort of ATs.
Delivering the Keynote Address, Glenn Haverkort, Deputy Vice President – Transmission Systems, FEV Europe GmbH said a variety of parallel hybrid architectures are feasible based on the location and number of electric machines in the driveline. Driveline technologies to meet future requirements are either already available or under development. Multiple technical solutions will co-exist as different markets have different requirements.
NEW ENERGY VEHICLE LANDSCAPE
The first technical session on ‘Transmissions for New Energy Vehicles (NEVs)’ dealt at length about a growing focus on battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and mild hybrids after 2020. The general line of thought was that the changes in vehicle architecture will be driven by stringent CO2 and fuel efficiency legislations. BEVs will gain a market share of around 17 % by 2030, while mild hybrids will corner a 30 % share of the market by 2030 given the growing confidence in 48 V systems, said Srihari Mulgund, President, Ricardo India. At the global level, China is expected to spearhead the BEV development, while Europe is expected to take the lead in mild hybrid development.
There was unanimity among the speakers that dedicated hybrid transmissions (DHT) will be the way forward even as the vehicle architecture evolves in future. The DHT technology can be developed using a conventional base transmission and offers several benefits over hybridised transmissions.
The session also threw light on how DHTs can be a good choice for future powertrains that are highly electrified, but based on ICEs. Further, the speakers were of the opinion that the architecture arrangement of DHTs can have any number of speeds, modes or torque sources and also offer improved efficiency and lower BOM (bill of materials) cost. However, DHTs require higher volumes to offset their increased investments, highlighted one speaker. There was some degree of consensus among the speakers that conventional transmissions can be adapted over the short-term, but the DHT technology optimisation will remain the long-term focus area.
Speakers noted that the upcoming CAFE norms would drive OEMs to introduce hybrid/ electric vehicles, and also consider investing in new DHT development programmes. They were nonetheless categorical that the mildly convergent priorities of customers and the government could create a difficult dilemma for OEMs to choose a particular technology path.
The second session on ‘Commercial Vehicle Transmissions’ deliberated on driver comfort (a key ingredient towards optimising productivity) and the need to carry out refinements in CV transmissions given the fact that the automotive industry is working overtime to migrate to BS-VI emission norms. According to Satish Puranik, Head of Transmission, Tata Motors, automated manual transmission may not be the calling card of commercial vehicle manufacturers for now, but will become popular in five years’ time. The perspective shared by Puranik sums up how the commercial vehicle landscape is poised to change, in terms of adopting newer modes of transmissions.
The session also focused on the need to have lightweight transmissions given the prevailing overloading restrictions. With lightweight transmissions, it must be ensured that the payload of a vehicle goes up, while the vehicle weight remains as it is, Puranik pointed out. Speakers also highlighted the fact that AMTs are not only affordable for the end-user but also for OEMs because they do not have to design and develop the transmission, as it is just an add-on kit.
Surendar Shawn Paul, Sr General Manager, Head of Drivelines & PMO Engineering, Mahindra & Mahindra reckoned that the adoption of dual clutch transmissions (DCT) in the CV space is debatable, but elaborated how it is fuel-efficient, ensures continuous output and removes all jerks experienced by occupants in AMTs.
The session deliberated on the need for optimisation of lubricant levels so that gears immersed in oil are controlled, thus helping lower churning losses. The lubrication is sprayed on the gears and bearings for optimum lubrication. Oil is pumped in by a pump (electrical or driven by transmission shafts) and conveyed by pipes for spraying on the gears/bearings. These help weed out churning losses and reduce oil temperatures.
PASSENGER VEHICLE TRENDS
There was some degree of consensus among the speakers of the ‘Passenger Vehicle Transmissions’ session that manual transmissions will continue to retain significant market share in India (currently, MTs occupy 42 % of the Indian market) despite the steadily growing popularity of AMTs. If the views of the industry experts are anything to go by, AMTs will be a big attraction among entry-level hatchbacks, while the premium segments will see adoption of ATs, CVTs and other forms of automatic transmissions.
The session focussed on three key factors affecting the automotive industry – climate change, rapid urbanisation and globalisation. Increasing concentration of greenhouse gases is resulting in climate change and hence, significant electrification must be achieved to meet the CO2 targets. The annual corporate average CO2 emissions for every automaker should be 130 g/km till 2022 and < 113 g/km CO2 2022 onwards.
Interestingly, Vikas Chopra, Deputy General Manager – Transmission Design, Maruti Suzuki India Limited noted that the target set by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency is more stringent than the standards applicable in Japan for 2020, which effectively means that a vehicle in India has to be more fuel efficient than a similar vehicle in Japan. With BS VI coming into play in April 2020, the emission reducing target will only get even more difficult, as only large-scale adoption of hybrids and EVs can help achieve the emission targets. Rapid urbanisation is another factor playing a dampener to the emission-reducing efforts. It is estimated that around 60 % of world’s population will live in cities by 2030. Alarmingly, 80 % of CO2 emissions are contributed by cities.
There was a great deal of unanimity among the speakers about the need to improve efficiency of transmissions, reduce weight, reduce churning losses, have low friction rotating components and increase gear ratio spread (higher number of gears). Hiren B Divgi, Director, Divgi-TTS, said the wet dual clutch automatic transmission technology could be the best fit for the Indian market. Divgi also noted that OEMs will face the challenge of investing in automatic transmission technology since the volumes currently are quite low.
ELECTRIFICATION AT THE CORE
A panel discussion on ‘Electrification at the core of future automotive transmissions – driving efficiency and performance’ was also organised with Kaushik Madhavan as the moderator. The panel comprised of Vikram Gulati, Country Head & Vice President (EA), Toyoto Kirloskar Motor, Guruprasad Mudlapur, Regional President & Managing Director, Bosch, Automotive Electronics India and Nishant Tholiya, AVP & Head – Powertrain Solutions, KPIT Technologies.
The panel deliberated on the need for the government to have a scientific and factual database perspective of finding out what is the pathway that ensures the fastest reach in terms of achieving the national objective of moving away from fossil fuels, reducing carbon footprint and paving the way for environmental protection with minimum use of resources.
The valedictory session was graced by Chief Guest, CV Raman, Senior Executive Director (Engineering), Maruti Suzuki India. He called on the need to develop sustainable solutions for the future, keeping in mind the importance of four pillars – design, technology, performance and comfort & convenience – towards driving customer delight.
Graced by eminent speakers and delegates from across the Indian and global automotive industry, Transmission.tech 2018 ended with a promise to deliver an even bigger conference next year. The conference was supported by Magna as its Associate Partner; Punch Powertrain, Divgi-TTS, Continental and COMSOL as Gold Partners; Allison Transmission as Co-Partner; Frost & Sullivan as Knowledge Partner and Delux Bearings as Badge Sponsor. The third edition of Transmission.tech will be held on 17th April, 2019.
More images from Transmission.texh 2018: