Antonov automatic transmission moves closer to production in China image

Antonov, the UK-based vehicle transmission specialist, has announced further progress in its efforts to form a joint venture in China to manufacture and market its proprietary TX-6 transmission, with the signing of a further letter of intent between Chongqing Lan Dai Industry Co. Ltd and Antonov at a ceremony attended by leaders of the Bishan County and Chongqing provincial governments.  Antonov has previously signed a letter of intent with Sichuan Jianghan Industrial Group Co. Ltd, as announced on 30 March 2009.  Efforts are now directed to finalise the detailed structure of the joint venture, including the final list of partners, at the earliest opportunity.

Antonov believes Lan Dai is an excellent lead partner for the joint venture, delivering the core capabilities of broad market access, mass production knowledge and transmissions technology experience.  Lan Dai is currently completing new factory and office space, part of which could be allocated to the operations of the joint venture.  Ahead of any agreement, both Antonov and Lan Dai have made a commitment to invest up to €2m, in aggregate, in new development projects with other car manufacturers, including Lifan who will participate in building prototype demonstrator vehicles.

Lan Dai recorded turnover of $70m in 2008 and employs 1,400 people in the Chong Qing province, and has a well established customer base among Chinese vehicle manufacturers including Geely, Chery, Lifan, YuAn and FAW.  It also has established long term partnerships with companies in Iran, India and Korea.  Further information on Lan Dai is available at http://en.cqld.com.

The letter of intent anticipates that the joint venture will need a minimum of €30m of funding, but this could be reduced through access to the existing facilities of Lan Dai.  Both parties have demonstrated a willingness to invest €15m, but this figure could be reduced by the involvement of other partners.

Mr Zhu Tangfu, chairman of Lan Dai, commented: “One million cars a week are made in China, which is now a bigger market than the USA. The partnership with Antonov is a key step for Lan Dai to become the largest supplier of transmissions in China.  I am very happy to begin this exciting journey with Antonov, and have demonstrated our confidence in the JV by committing €1m for further development work before the final JV agreement is signed.”

Dr Jos E. Haag, executive chairman of Antonov, said: “This step further strengthens our relationships with the Chongqing governments and it will create a strong platform to manufacture and market Antonov’s proprietary TX6 transmission, especially since Lan Dai have all the capabilities required to deliver success for a joint venture.”

Antonov’s trading activities in China, under the management of Dr Yun Kang, are driven through its office in Chong Qing, where the company has a prototype vehicle available to demonstrate its 6-speed transmission technology to potential partners and prospective automotive clients.  Six-speed automatic transmissions are much desired by Chinese motorists, but currently have to be imported by the domestic carmakers.

The major innovation in Antonov’s all-new TX-6 gearbox is the technical breakthrough it has achieved in automatic transmission design, which has enabled the company to eliminate the traditional torque converter in a planetary transmission, thereby bringing the efficiency of an automatic gearbox much closer to that of a manual transmission.
The TX-6 avoids the high capital investment also the cost, complexity and development issues associated with dual-clutch automated manual transmissions.  The transmission uses components similar to those of current production automatics.  It therefore provides a solution for manufacturers with millions already invested in existing manufacturing plants to modify their conventional automatic transmission designs by eliminating the torque converter.

Antonov’s hybrid combination of planetary gears and parallel transfers of power also reduces the cost, weight and size of the gearbox, whilst improving mechanical efficiency, aswell as retaining the virtually seamless gearshifts of an automatic transmission.  In addition, the TX-6 offers car makers low development costs and, if required, the ease of introducing it into relatively low volume production.  The transmission is protected by worldwide patents.