ZF India | Placing Its Bets On AMTs

ZF India, the Indian subsidiary of leading global driveline and chassis technology player, ZF is banking on Automated Manual Transmissions (AMT) to find acceptance in a large scale in the near future. While more than half of the global automotive market currently is accounted for by manual transmissions, ZF is confident of the growth potentials in emerging markets like India, China, and South America.

A recent report by Global Industry Analysts (GIA) estimates the worldwide automotive transmission systems market to reach 94 mn units by 2017, fuelled by healthy increases in the production of passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Stringent emission norms implemented by governments worldwide to reduce pollution will create opportunities for advanced fuel efficient transmission systems such as Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) and Dual Clutch transmissions (DCT).

While there is belief transmission systems like AMTs and DCTs would largely drive future vehicles, the fact that manual transmissions would continue to power future vehicles, can’t be denied. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) stated that in 2010, more than half (54.1 %) of all automobiles produced worldwide had a manual transmission. MTs are forecast to lead the charts in 2015 as well, albeit with a decreased marketshare of 53.2 %, (1).

In India too, most manufacturers in the mass market segments prefer not to look beyond manuals, with automatic transmissions accounting for a small share. ATs, however, are the most preferred when it comes to premium vehicles in E and above segments. Auto Tech Review recently spoke to Piyush Munot, India Managing Director, ZF India to understand what drives the company’s confidence in AMTs.

EFFICIENCY: UPPING THE ANTE

Pitched against each other, the performance of manual and automatic transmissions would be at par. However, in terms of efficiency and cost, there is still a big difference. Munot said, “There is a big gap between the expectations of the market and what OEMs can offer to the customers. OEMs do not feel ATs bring the value to the market that is needed.”

However, numbers from various sources in the industry tells him there is a growth in the demand for ATs. Although price remains a key factor, customers who understand the value they get out of ATs, would be willing to pay. Having said that, close to 80 % of the Indian market is still dominated by A and B segment cars. It is this potential that Munot wants to tap through AMTs.

Interestingly, almost all manual transmissions are manufactured in-house by OEMs. So till automatic transmissions become more acceptable to the masses, OEMs would continue to source them from their suppliers, and not invest in creating their own capacities. “The motivation of an OEM to promote ATs as against MTs is far lower. Therefore, the AMT is a better fit, because they can leverage their manual transmissions, and add value to their customer,” Munot said.

WHY AMTs?

Automated manual transmissions have found acceptance, especially because of its low costs and the small space required for installation. In A, B and C segments cars AMTs could be an ideal substitute for ATs, Munot said. There will be strong demands in both emerging and developed markets for reduced fuel consumption, emissions, and weight along with improved driving dynamics, and AMTs are right to fit that bill, he said. In an earlier feature in Auto Tech Review, Munot had written that AMTs amount to about one-third of the price automotive manufacturers charge for multi-ratio transmissions. The other advantages that work for AMTs include its capability to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

PwC’s study stated that by 2015, AMTs would only account for 1.4 % of the total transmission market. However, that could change once manufacturers of small and compact vehicles in emerging countries adopt AMTs.

Text: Deepangshu Dev Sarmah