Chinese transmission

Antonov, the UK-based vehicle-transmission specialist, is planning to begin manufacturing operations in China.


Antonov, the UK-based vehicle-transmission specialist, has laid the foundations for operations in China.


The company recently secured €15m (£13.6m) of backing from Sichuan Jianghan Industrial Group to explore the possibility of producing in China its proprietary TX-6 automatic transmission, an innovation that eliminates traditional torque converters for a more efficient planetary gearbox.


Antonov and Jianghan also agreed to search for additional partners that can provide better market access, mass production and transmission technology.


Antonov’s current trading activities in China are driven through its office in Chong Qing, where the company already has a prototype vehicle (1.6-litre VW Golf) to demonstrate its six-speed transmission technology to potential partners and prospective automotive clients.


Six-speed automatic transmissions are much desired by Chinese motorists, but the technology currently has to be imported by domestic carmakers.


Jos Haag, executive chairman of Antonov, believes the TX-6 will be a success in the country.


He said: ‘I am happy to have been able to see some proof of life in China as far as the TX-6 is concerned.


‘We will continue discussions in China in the short term and will update the market after that.’


Antonov claims the elimination of a traditional torque converter in its TX-6 gearbox makes its efficiency close to that of a manual transmission.


The TX-6 is also claimed to avoid the cost, complexity and development issues associated with dual-clutch automated manual transmissions.


The transmission uses components similar to those of current production automatics.


Antonov argues that this means manufacturers that have already invested millions in factories can modify their conventional automatic-transmission designs by eliminating the torque converter.


It is also claimed the TX-6’s hybrid combination of planetary gears and parallel transfers of power reduces the cost, weight and size of the gearbox.


It also improves mechanical efficiency and retains the smooth gearshifts of an automatic transmission.


While Antonov is looking into mass producing the transmission, it is open to producing smaller volumes.


 


The company claims the TX-6’s relatively inexpensive development costs for car-makers make low-volume production a viable choice.