Issue: Nov 2009


Ricardo wins major Russian transmission contract



by Steve Barclay

Ricardo has been awarded a major contract by Moscow based KATE LLC to partner it in the development of a new 7-speed automatic transmission for use in AvtoVAZ cars

KATE LLC is an independent company with a background in the development of automatic transmission concepts for special applications. The company has been successful in being selected by AvtoVAZ – Russia’s largest automaker – to develop the new FT702 automatic transmission for use in Lada cars. This will be the first automatic transmission to be offered by AvtoVAZ and is aimed at helping broaden the appeal of the company’s products in the domestic Russian market which increasingly favours this type of transmission.

KATE has already built and tested concept demonstrator units, and has started preparation of a new manufacturing facility in Kaliningrad to support volume production. However, KATE has sought the assistance of Ricardo as a technology partner with extensive experience of automotive transmission programme delivery to help it complete the design and development of the new transmission. A strong working relationship has already been forged between KATE and Ricardo during a recent contract to review and optimise the FT702 concept design. Building on this, KATE has now confirmed Ricardo as its engineering partner for mechanical design and development, control software and calibration on the production programme. The objective is to develop a first derivative of the new transmission family for launch in a Lada B/C class car in 2012.

The FT702 transmission will be based on KATE’s original design concept. It will be an ultra-compact and low manufacturing cost unit with 175Nm capacity offering a large ratio spread and avoiding the need for a torque converter, hence yielding efficiency and further cost savings. Its attractive combination of features is intended to make it a suitable basis for a family of further derivatives and applications in the future once this first project has been completed.

The programme will be supported by Ricardo staff at the company’s technical facilities in the UK, US and Germany. Ricardo will be responsible for all transmission engineering work through to the end of the production intent prototype phase, including detail analysis and design, software, prototype manufacture, calibration and rig test. After this, Ricardo will support KATE’s industrialisation of the design and maintain development responsibility for control software and calibration until the transmission reaches volume production.

Commenting on the announcement of this important transmission contract win, Ricardo group global product group director for transmission & driveline systems, Lee Sykes, said:

“Ricardo is pleased to have been selected by KATE LLC as its engineering and technology partner on the development of the FT702 seven-speed automatic transmission. This new project builds upon an already well established and highly beneficial relationship between our companies. It also serves to demonstrate both the extent of Ricardo’s automatic transmission development capability and the geographical reach of our operations. Together with our commitment to this fast growing market, these qualities are helping to make Ricardo an increasingly attractive supplier of choice to the Russian automotive industry.”

KATE LLC general director Mr Evgeny Novitskiy added:

“KATE’s Project FT702 is on a new scale for the Russian automotive sector and this is a new sort of project in Russia. To reach series production in a high technology automotive sphere in today’s world it is essential to use the combined efforts, knowledge and experience of world leading engineering companies. We now have all the foundations to achieve successful results by mutual cooperation during the execution of the FT702 project. We are in for hard but interesting work and we’re happy that Ricardo is with us.”

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