Driven by an ever-growing need for greater fuel economy, lower emissions and improved driving experience, the automotive industry globally have triggered significant developments in the area of transmissions. Clearly, the powertrain of the future needs to be environmentally-friendly, maintain vehicle dynamics as well as support active safety. Over the years, transmission technology has witnessed considerable advancements progressing from three speed gearboxes to 10-speed gearboxes, with developments around 11-speed boxes triple clutch transmissions and reversible variable transmissions.
Amidst this industry scenario, Auto Tech Review organised the 3rd edition of Transmission.tech on April 24, 2019 at Hotel Leela Ambience, Gurugram. The country’s only dedicated technology conference-cum-mini exhibition on automotive transmissions featured two highly engaging sessions that brought forth wide-ranging perspectives from leading OEMs, Tier I suppliers and engineering companies on future transmission technologies and roadmap.
Delivering his inaugural address, Purushottam Panda, Conference Chairman and Executive Director (Engineering Division), Maruti Suzuki India Limited said the automotive industry could move from a vehicle ownership model to a shared mobility model, wherein people in future may not buy cars but only use it to meet their day-to-day needs. Elaborating on how driving is no longer a pleasant experience owing to traffic snarls, Panda said the usage of the first, second and third gears while driving in traffic jam is much more than normal usage, leading to clutch and brake actuation, fuel consumption and driver fatigue. Panda asserted that there is a pressing need to think out-of-the-box to make mobility affordable, convenient, safe and environmentally-friendly.
Charles Frump, Managing Director, Volvo Car India, who graced the occasion as Guest of Honour, said there is a need for car manufacturers to go beyond selling cars and become mobility solutions providers. Frump said the automotive industry is undergoing a massive transformation and automotive companies need to adopt different approaches and perhaps look beyond its own suppliers, own partners and strive to match changing customer expectations.
Ganesh Mani S, Director – Production, Hyundai Motor India Ltd, said regulations such as BS VI norms (kicking in 2020) and CAFÉ norms (kicking in 2022) will not only pose challenges, but also create newer opportunities for transmission players across the country.
Transmission.tech 2019 also marked the unveiling of two studies presented by Knowledge Partners, Frost & Sullivan and LMC Automotive. Presenting the Global Automotive Outlook 2019, Kaushik Madhavan, Vice President, Mobility – South Asia, Frost & Sullivan observed that global heavyweights like US and China are witnessing a mild growth slowdown, but added that emerging markets like India, Russia and Brazil are posting positive growth and will drive the global automotive industry over the next 12-18 months.
In his presentation of a study on Ammar Master, Senior Manager, LMC Automotive, said MTs and ATs will continue to dominate the global market, together constituting more than 60 % by 2025, largely driven by low-cost advantage of MTs and its preference in emerging markets such as India and growing popularity of ATs in the US. He believes that transmissions are getting more hybridised, and modular transmission architectures should be a stepping stone to fully dedicated hybrid transmissions like electronically-controlled CVTs (ECVTs).
FIRST TECHNOLOGY SESSION
The opening technology session saw industry experts share enlightening perspectives. Prasenjit Khan, Vice President – Transmission Design, Development and Testing, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd said manual transmissions will continue to stay relevant in India and their optimisation and performance enhancement will be largely driven by transmission efficiency improvements, cost & weight reduction, and convenience of gear shift as well as increasing gear span to increase fuel economy.
Touching on the global transmission trends, he said Japan and North America are predominantly automatic transmission (AT) and continuously variable transmission (CVT) markets, while Europe and China are witnessing the growth of dual clutch transmissions (DCTs). Voicing concern over how the upcoming corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFÉ) norms will pose huge challenges to transmission technology development, Khan said the mandate of 113 g/km for CAFÉ phase II is a tough task and added that it could get even tougher for CAFÉ phase III given the mandate is 96 g/km.
Ashok Bhandwale, Consulting Head – Advanced Transmission Products, Divgi-TTS said transmissions of the future will be driven by increased torque density, efficiency, durability, shift quality, modular design and reduced package size. Bhandwale stated that the need of the hour is to reduce hydraulic system losses (automatics), use on-demand hydraulic pump, low viscosity oils, high axial load-compatible & low friction bearings, low emission sealing solutions as well as improve processes and acquire software and calibration knowledge.
Gary Skipper, Head of Friction Systems India, Japan, Asean areas, Oerlikon Friction Systems (UK) said the challenging CO2 emission regulations are compelling OEMs to reduce fuel consumption, besides cost pressure from OEMs for any new technology to be affordable. Elaborating on modern transmission synchronisers, Skipper said such synchronisers comprise precision-formed steel synchroniser rings with carbon friction linings for smooth gear changes.
Adding to Skipper’s presentation, Andrew Raistrick, Product Design Engineer, Oerlikon Friction Systems India Ltd said the Segmented Synchroniser System (S3) ensures increased efficiency, weight reduction of 150 g, reduced drag losses by 250 W and 30 % cost reduction for manual, dual clutch and automatic transmissions. Further, elaborating on the ESync synchroniser for advanced hybrid transmissions and electrified powertrains, he said the ESync concept provides an axial package reduction of up to 11 mm in one synchroniser system, leading to more space for additional components. The ESync can be applied to single and multiple cone synchronisers and S3 plus.
Dr Ingo Steinberg, Group VP – Transmission Systems, FEV GmbH said the Indian market requires India-specific transmissions as funding a hybrid powertrain is an expensive proposition owing to the involvement of two powertrains. On electric mobility, Steinberg stated that the 48 V system does offer mild hybridisation of bigger vehicles, but could be introduced in light vehicles as a pure electric drive. He said the large availability of light vehicles in India is a huge opportunity for transition towards electrombility as they enable much easier introduction of electric drive and battery electric vehicles (BEVs), offering much lower cost of ownership.
Alex Serrarens, Manager, Punch Powertrain said the 48 V system will make the vehicle comply with requisite emission norms, against the combination of conventional engine with start-stop systems. He said since there is a growing preference among Indian customers for mid-sized SUVs, the market will witness a larger adoption of DCTs from 2021 as mid-sized cars will require better gear shifting behaviour and comfort. Serrans also underlined the importance of localising the DCT technology for it to be cost-competitive for the Indian market.
SECOND TECHNOLOGY SESSION
The second technical session brought to the fore eye-catching insights on the transmission journey going forward. Srivastsan Kannan, DGM – Design of Clutch and Clutch Release Systems, Schaeffler India Ltd said 30 % of the global market will still be using pure IC engines by 2030, 40 % will have mild hybridisation or plug-in-hybrid hybrid with higher potential of 48 V hybrids, and 30 % will be using battery electric vehicles. As far as the Indian market is concerned, Kannan believes that 55 % will use IC engines, 24 % will use hybridisation and 21 % will use pure electric vehicles.
The automation part of transmission acts as an enabler for the next level of technology like hybridisation or electrification, said Sandeep Soni, GM & Head of Engineering (Automotive Division), Schaeffler India Ltd. Soni added that it is critical to understand what kind of right calibration strategies can be adopted for a transmission so that it substantially reduces CO2 emissions.
Jibin Paul, COE Head – Automotive Transmissions, Powertrain Division (PTD), MRV, Mahindra & Mahindra, said there is lot of work happening from the transmission design perspective, as automotive engineers are focussing on friction reduction to improve fuel efficiency. He cited an example of Mahindra launching its D15 engine in Marrazo and XUV 300 that are claimed to be one of the lowest friction engines in the world, wherein the focus is on torque plate honing, low tension piston rings, crank offset, optimised water pump and oil pump, reduced belt tension to improve fuel efficiency.
Pawan Soami, Product Manager, COMSOL India said the automotive industry is looking to optimise the transmission and the focus is on addressing heating as well as vibrations issues besides electric electromagnetic modelling within the motors (as we are moving towards electrification).
Sushil S Ramdasi, Deputy Director, Powertrain Engineering, ARAI said the industry is working on engine downsizing and downspeeding of engines as the contemporary powertrain scenario will be driven by stringent emission norms, high specific power, high torque output and lower fuel consumption. Ramdasi further opined that it is not about looking for alternative fuels or alternate energy, as there is a need to have an alternate powertrain.
Towards the end of the daylong conference, a panel discussion on ‘Taking an integrated view on future mobility through energy and powertrain options’ was also organised with Deepangshu Dev Sarmah, Editor-in-Chief, Auto Tech Review as the moderator. The panel comprised Dr Ingo Steinberg, Group Vice President – Transmission Systems, FEV GmbH, Suresh KV, President, ZF India, Hiren B Divgi Director, Divgi-TTS, KK Gandhi, Convenor, Centre for Auto Policy and Research (CAPR) & Executive Advisor, TVS Motor Company and PK Banerjee, Executive Director (Technical), SIAM.
The increasing focus on comfort in the US and Europe is leading to rapid adoption of automatic transmissions, while Indian consumers owing to price pressures are leveraging manual transmissions, said Banerjee. Divgi offered a different perspective stating that India is not a price-sensitive market but a value-sensitive market. He believes that Indian customers will lap up anything if they see value in it. Suresh highlighted the significant changes the macroeconomic environment has undergone with OEMs showing more keenness to embrace new technologies that will make transportation more efficient in the coming years.
Gandhi said the biggest challenge for the Indian automotive industry is infrastructure constraints, especially road congestion besides the need to reduce emissions and adhere to upcoming CAFÉ norms. Offering his view, Steinberg highlighted that increased efficiency in transmissions can go a long way in paving the way for smarter mobility.
The conference also hosted a mini exhibition with about ten exhibitors showcasing the latest technologies and innovations around transmission technologies. Transmission.tech 2019 was supported by Gold Partners – Punch Powertrain, Padmini VNA Mechatronics Ltd, Oerlikon Metco, FEV, COMSOL and Divgi-TTS; Co-Partners – SKF, ZF and Schaeffler; Support Partners – ARAI and ICAT and Knowledge Partners – Frost & Sullivan and LMC Automotive. The next edition of Transmission.tech will be held in April 2020.