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Powertrain innovation

Changing consumer demand forces powertrain evolution Punch Powertrain’s Gert-Jan Vogelaar tells Michael Nash about innovative new powertrain technologies that are set to make their way to market over the next five years redicting the acceptance of new technologies in the automotive industry is an extremely challenging task. OEMs and suppliers invest millions of dollars in the design, development and production of solutions, in the hope of winning new customers and reaching markets.

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With increasingly stringent emissions and fuel economy regulations looming across the world, powertrain engineers are examining the viability of numerous technologies that are yet to reach mass production in the passenger vehicle segment. The level of adoption and acceptance of these technologies could vary considerably when considering markets like Europe, the US and Asia, for example.

transmissions (CVTs) for rear-wheel drive (RWD) vehicles in the mid-1970s. It almost exclusively supplied its product to Volvo after being acquired by the Swedish OEM in 1975. Since splitting from Volvo in the early 1990s, Punch has expanded its portfolio considerably, and continues to do so through research and development. Speaking to Megatrends, Gert-Jan Vogelaar, the company’s Strategic Marketing Director, emphasised the importance of this continuous expansion.

Expansion through R&D

“When Punch first started we were a one-customer business, but now we’ve managed to create a large base of clients,” affirmed Vogelaar. “We invest the money we make on sales in the development of new products, and we need these new products to increase our geographical footprint.”

Punch Powertrain, which grew out of a former DAF subsidiary, started to produce continuously variable

Punch’s latest CVT is called VT5, and is slated to reach production in 2017. It is based on the company’s existing

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VT2 and VT3 transmissions, but has the world’s largest ratio coverage for a single CVT transmission. Vogelaar described the steps that Punch has been taking before the VT5 enters production.

The cost challenge

“The first part was to ensure we had more customers for our VT2 and VT3 transmissions,” he revealed. “Once we had those, we had the money to invest in new technologies. Our current CVT products don't have torque converters, which is the number one requirement for an automatic transmission in the US.” Vogelaar also noted that while CVTs are not particularly popular in Europe, they are in high demand across Asia. To tackle the European market, Punch decided to start the development of a dual clutch transmission (DCT). “DCTs aren’t really a very cost effective solution at the moment, but

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Automotive Megatrends Magazine - Q4 2016  

Free quarterly online publication featuring insight from An Conghui, Trevor Milton, Connie Jackson, and many more leading auto industry stak...

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