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Dual clutches overtaking manual transmission.

BorgWarner is one of the component suppliers which is not allowing the world economic crunch to slow it down. The company has entered into a joint venture with a Chinese consortium to manufacture dual clutch transmission modules for the Chinese market, which continues to grow.

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The joint venture, called BorgWarner United Transmission Systems Co, will use BorgWarner's DualTronic technology to manufacture transmission solutions. The Michigan-headquartered BorgWarner holds a 66% stake in the venture with the China (Automobile) Development United Investment Co. Ltd. (CDUI). CDUI is owned by twelve leading Chinese automakers including FAW, SAIC, Dongfeng, Chery, ChangAn, Brilliance, Guangzhu, Changfeng, JAC, Geely, Polarsun and Great Wall Motor. Production of various dual clutch transmission modules will start in 2011.

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"By leading the dual clutch transmission expansion into the Chinese marketplace, this joint venture will establish BorgWarner's DuaITronic technology as the preferred automatic transmission solution in China," said Tim Manganello, chairman and chief executive officer of BorgWarner.

"BorgWarner is honored to join CDUI and its 12 Chinese OEM partners in bringing the benefits of DualTronic technology--improved fuel economy, lower emissions and a dynamic yet comfortable driving experience--to the growing automatic transmission market in China."

According to the company, BorgWarner's DualTronic technology is based on a manual transmission architecture, thus it is well suited to China, where OEMs have a solid manual transmission infrastructure. The joint venture will allow Chinese OEMs to make the technological leap to world-leading dual clutch transmissions quickly and cost effectively. BorgWarner's modular DualTronic technology can be tuned to meet the full range of vehicles manufactured by its Chinese OEM partners.

BorgWarner Transmission Systems, part of the BorgWarner Drivetrain group, began the production of DualTronic Wet Clutch and Mechatronic Control Modules, codeveloped with Volkswagen for its sixspeed Direct Shift Gearbox in Europe in 2003.

BorgWarner Transmission Systems is a supplier to the majority of automatic transmission manufacturers in the world. It produces shift quality components and systems including one-way clutches, transmission bands, friction plates and clutch-pack assemblies, and controls including transmission solenoids, control modules and integrated mechatronic control systems.

The growth of BorgWarner's DualTronic technology means increased demand for BorgWarner Transmission Systems' products. In 2004, the company expanded throughout Europe, building new facilities in Tulle, France and Arnstadt, Germany to accommodate growth in control modules and dual clutch modules respectively.

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At that time, Dr. Bernd Matthes, now President of Transmission Joint Ventures said: "We are very encouraged by the growth of dual-clutch transmissions in Europe. BorgWarner is pleased to expand its capabilities in France and Germany in order to accommodate increased production of DualTronic controls systems and other transmission products. We believe the momentum for this technology will continue to increase as more customers and drivers experience the fuel economy and performance benefits of this exciting technology."

The company says that the BorgWarner family of DualTronic technologies combines the efficiency of a manual gearbox with the functionality of a fully automatic transmission, delivering seamless powerflow, improved fuel efficiency and a fun-to-drive experience. Customers include VW, Audi, Bugatti, SAIC, Nissan and GETRAG PowerShift dual-clutch transmission programs supporting global automakers including BMW, Ford and Mitsubishi. In addition, BorgWarner is currently working on over 25 programs with transmission and vehicle makers around the world. The company expects global DCT production to reach five million units by 2014, with over 80% of global applications featuring BorgWarner DualTronic technology.

Automotive industries spoke with Dr. Bernd Matthes, president of Transmission Joint Ventures, BorgWarner.

AI: What makes your DualTronic based dual clutch transmission systems so relevant?

Matthes: Dual clutch technology combines the highly efficient architecture of a manual gearbox with the comfort and convenience of a traditional automatic transmission. It has the same directly coupled responsive feel as a manual gearbox, however, shifts are quick and seamless with no interruption in powerflow.

From the perspective of established manual transmission OEMs, dual clutch offers attractive opportunities to leverage existing knowledge and manufacturing assets. Thus, dual clutch is ideally suited to mainstream European and developing markets where manual transmissions are still the dominant transmission type.

AI: Tell us how dual clutch transmissions (DOT) systems are expected to fare in the current market with OEMs?

Matthes: BorgWarner projects growth from approximately 600K DCTs worldwide in 2008 to five million DCTs in 2014. This is an average compound annual growth rate of nearly 40%. Interest in DCT is particularly strong among OEMs in Europe and in the major growth markets of Asia, specifically China.

AI: Do you see China as a global hub for DCT production?

Matthes: Yes. China is clearly the world's fastest growing major automotive market. Most automatic transmissions sold in China are still imported at great expense, while demand exceeds local production capacity. However, China has substantial experience and capacity to produce manual transmissions.

AI: What are some of the technologies emerging from BorgWarner with regards to powertrains?

Matthes: In the Engine Group of BorgWarner, we are seeing substantial growth in turbocharging, both diesel and gasoline engines. Dual clutch transmissions are well suited to downsized high specific output engines, both gasoline and diesel. Additionally, the inherent efficiency of DCT is a natural complement to Hybrid Electric Vehicle systems.

AI: How has BorgWarner changed its business estimates in the current global slowdown?

Matthes: While the global automotive recession has forced OEMs to reassess R&D and capital investment budgets, most DCT programs worldwide remain funded and on schedule. In fact, new program opportunities continue to emerge, as OEMs look past the current recession and prepare for tighter fuel efficiency demands in the next decade.

AI: How big is BorgWarner Transmission Systems' aftermarket business? What fuels growth in this sector?

Matthes: Aftermarket sales continue to be a small but profitable segment of our business. Nearly all aftermarket sales are our traditional automatic transmission components, with most sales in North America.
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Author:Knox, Jon
Publication:Automotive Industries
Article Type:Interview
Date:Mar 22, 2009
Words:969
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