INTERVIEW – The economic slowdown has not affected BorgWarner’s overseas expansion plans. Last month, the company announced a joint venture with a Chinese consortium to manufacture dual clutch transmission modules. The joint venture, called BorgWarner United Transmission Systems Co, will use BorgWarner’s DualTronic® technology to manufacture transmission solutions. The Michigan-headquartered company holds a 66 percent stake in the joint venture.
BorgWarner’s joint venture in China is with the China (Automobile) Development United Investment Co. Ltd. (CDUI) – a company owned by 12 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.
“By leading the dual clutch transmission expansion into the Chinese marketplace, this joint venture will establish BorgWarner’s DualTronic® technology as the preferred automatic transmission solution in China, ‘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,” said Tim Manganello, chairman and chief executive officer of BorgWarner.
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, co-developed with Volkswagen for its 6-speed Direct Shift Gearbox in Europe in 2003.
BorgWarner Transmission Systems is a supplier to virtually every automatic transmission manufacturer 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 in Europe, building new facilities in Tulle, France and Arnstadt, Germany to accomdate growth in control modules and dual clutch modules respectively
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 5 million units by 2014, with over 80% of global applications featuring BorgWarner DualTronic® technology.
Automotive Industries recently spoke with Dr. Bernd Matthes:
AI: What makes your DualTronic based dual clutch transmission systems so relevant?
Dual clutch technology combines the highly efficient architecture of a manual gearbox with 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 markets and developing markets where manual transmissions are still the dominant transmission type.
AI: Please tell us how in the current market, DCT systems are expected to fare with OEMs?
BW projects growth from approximately 600K DCTs worldwide in 2008 to 5 million DCTs in 2014… an average CAGR of nearly 40%. Interest in DCT is particularly strong among OEMs in Europe and in major growth markets of Asia, specifically China.
AI: Do you see China as a global hub for DCT production? If so, why?
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. A Chinese 3rd party perspective on this from dctfacts.com:
Historically, carmakers in China have had to import automatic transmissions, often at great expense. There are no domestically developed and manufactured ATs, though some automakers are conducting research. This situation, says Prof Dr Jun Li, director of FAW’s research center in Changchun, has led to the share of automatics in Chinese car sales lagging behind that in other countries. By developing dual clutch transmissions, Prof Li told DCTfacts.com at a recent conference, FAW can become more independent.
“DCT is something we can do ourselves – this is why we selected it,” said Prof Li. “We believe we can improve it and upgrade it step by step.”
FAW’s decision to focus on DCT for its automatic transmission needs came at the end of a two-year feasibility study aimed at finding out whether this type of transmission would meet the particular requirements for China in terms of consumer tastes and existing manual transmission manufacturing capacity.
AI: What are some of the technologies emerging from BorgWarner vis a vis powertrains?
In the Engine Group of BW, 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?
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?
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.