Antonov, developer of an innovative automatic gearbox, is confident its policy of focusing on small car programmes in Asia will bear fruit this year, despite the Asian financial crisis.
Antonov, like rival technology company Torotrak, will not manufacture its transmission but earn revenue from licensees and royalties per unit.
Mike Emmerson, Antonov managing director, said it expected a decision by the end of the summer from an unnamed Japanese car company on ‘the next step’. The project had suffered from a four-month delay.
The Japanese car maker is near completion of a number of its own design pre-production transmissions for testing.
Antonov’s other big hope, Indian transmission maker Gajara which has signed a production licence is expected to go into production this summer to build 100,000 units a year. The transmissions would be fitted into the Suzuki/Maruti passenger car.
Antonov also has a project with Chrysler for a six-speed transmission for the Neon saloon car and has added new programmes over the past year with Daewoo, Hyundai, Kia, Mahindra, Timor, Pektron and Textron.
‘There have been no effects on our contracts despite the Asian crisis,’ said Emmerson, ‘although obviously the effect on future investments is unknown.’
Its strategy is based on the belief that small automatic cars are popular in the Asian markets.
Antonov’s losses for 1997 fell to £1.6m before tax from £1.8m the year before. It now has 19 staff and revenue last year doubled to £488,000.
Torotrak, the Leicester-based BTG company, and rival to Antonov with its infinitely variable transmission, is also working with most vehicle manufacturers.
Maurice Martin, Torotrak chief executive, said it had recently added a commercial vehicle manufacturer and General Motors to its list of signed licensees, with production in mind.