News : September 2004

Powertrain collaborates on new gearboxes

Press release: 22 Sep 04

Antonov, the developer of new transmission technologies, today announces that Powertrain Ltd, the leading independent UK engine and transmission manufacturer, has taken out an exclusive licence to produce a new 6 speed electronic automatic transmission and a new dual clutch transmission. Since signing a wide-ranging “Heads of Agreement” in February 2004 the two companies have worked together to develop the Antonov technology from the prototype stage towards production readiness.

A running demonstrator of the 5th generation 6-speed planetary transmission has now been fitted to a Rover Streetwise car. Over the next few months it will be tested by OEM’s and be ready for production in 2006.

In addition the 2 companies will complete the design and development work on an all new dual clutch 6- and 7-speed transmission systems and a running demonstrator will be available for OEM appraisal within 6 months.

Rouben Antonov, Chairman, said, “Our relationship with Powertrain Ltd has developed well over the past 6 months and their decision to take out an exclusive licence is a great testimony to our new technologies and their confidence in their benefits”

Fraser Welford-Winton, Managing Director Powertrain Ltd, said, “We have been very impressed with the technical and consumer benefits of the Antonov technologies. Working together with Antonov I believe we can bring to market products with a real competitive advantage and can win new customers over the next 5 years”

Goodbye L-Series?

It appears that it could well be goodbye to the L-Series engine, as more manufacturing goes abroad. Where does that leave the common rail development of the L-Series, as developed in conjunction with Siemens?


Article courtesy of the Times News Network

In a bid to cut costs, British car maker MG Rover’s engine division — Powertrain Ltd — is driving into India for producing and sourcing 2-litre common rail diesel engines. These engines will be locally produced by Punjab-based International Cars and Motors. A subsidiary of International Tractors, ICM is investing 200 million Rupees this fiscal for establishing a manufacturing facility in Una, Himachal Pradesh.

“Powertrain will provide us the designs for this next-generation CRDi engine. The engines will be manufactured by ICM and shipped to the UK for use in Rover cars,” International Tractors chairman and MD L D Mittal said. “ICM and Powertrain will together sell these engines in the world markets. We also have the right to use this engine for our sports utility vehicle that’s being developed in assistance with Rover,” Mittal said. First shipment of the engines to London is slated for July 2005.

Producing the engines in India, Mittal said, is helping Powertrain cut costs by 20 per cent. The Una facility will also house the production lines for its SUV, codenamed Rhino. “While we are initially investing 200 million Rupees in the unit, we have lined up a total capital infusion of 1,000 million Rupees in 4 years to build an integrated vehicle and engine manufacturing facility,” he said.

Trial production of Rhino will start by March 2005. The vehicle, Mittal said, will initially be launched in north and west India. MG Rover currently sources Indica hatchback from Tata Motors and markets the vehicle in the UK as CityRover.

It has also initiated talks with the Tata group flagship firm for sourcing more models from India. Besides sourcing vehicles and now CRDi engines, the firm is also actively considering buying low cost engine components from India.

Pininfarina’s Double-Face. Further information

It might be. It might not be. Either way, Pininfarina’s new project contains lessons for MG Rover’s RD/X60.
Enjoy the Paris 2004 press release about the project.

The integration of Design, Engineering and Manufacturing sectors.
Increased competencies in process engineering. The flexible management of the production process. These are a few of the principles of the Double-Face project, upon which today’s ‘new” Pininfarina is also based. With increasing focus on the client, more adaptability to the client’s requirements and more commitment to providing the best solution possible in terms of quality, timescales and costs.

The Double-Face project, developed by Pininfarina in conjunction with Matra Automobile Engineering, has been conceived as the response to a hypothetical situation: a potential client’s request to realise, on one shared platform, two car bodies with different styling cues, one of which made of steel and the other of composite material, and with a sufficiently high degree of carry-over to keep investment costs down.

Research has demonstrated that by acquiring Matra Automobile, Pininfarina has expanded its own expertise in the fields of technology and alternative production processes into traditional pressed steel methods, and is now in a position to promote itself as a partner to major manufacturers for the execution of partial or total production cycles. In a visually choreographed demonstration of the results of their research, Pininfarina and Matra technicians have translated the Double-Face project into a structure in which two different body shells run alternately along an overhead rail to then converge, at the centre of the setting, over the chassis and structural elements shared by both vehicles. As with all Pininfarina projects, the Design, Engineering and Manufacturing sectors have worked in harmony on the Double-Face project, while also pursuing their own specific goals.

The Design Sector has created two concept vehicles with different vocations and the same technical configuration for the 4×4 SUV segment, as this is one of the most representative areas in today’s market trends; in addition to defining these concept cars in the form of renderings and in virtual mathematic CAS models, the Design sector has also been responsible for the creation and finishing of the two body shells. The Engineering Sector was responsible for the vehicle architecture, for the design and production of a chassis maximising the use of shared components in order to reduce investment costs and the costs incurred by the development of the special sections usually required to permit the use of either steel or composite skins. The Manufacturing Sector defined possible process and production volume scenarios and calculated the relative costs involved in the industrialisation of the Double-Face project.

Two different styles…
The two models proposed by the Double-Face project are SUV 4×4, 3 door four seat vehicles with front mounted engines. The designs put forward respond to the need to create two vehicles with completely different vocations and styling. The cars designed were an off-road coupé, to be constructed using plastic body panels, and a more spacious saloon destined for a more road-oriented application, to be built using steel body panels.

Road-Going SUV: this is a more elegant vehicle destined for road use, which however retains a striking and aggressive character with its sculpted lines. Fenders are also emphasised on this vehicle, but are in the same colour as the rest of the bodywork, as is the roof. The front pillars and top windscreen frame are also body-coloured. A highlight on the sill contributes to the muscularity of the side of the car, which is characterised by a swage line at shoulder level, which runs the length of the car from tail to nose, and is interrupted by the front wheelarch before being continued in the front of the car. The design of the glasshouse, as seen from the side view, confers dynamism and elegance to the rear pillar. The front and the rear lights are integrated into the shape of the fenders. The full beam headlamps are incorporated into the design of the air intake on the bumper. Two splash deflectors are mounted on the wheelarches.

…On a single platform…
The first stage of the project consisted in the identification of a suitable concept for a shared platform with dimensions compatible for the type of vehicle that the Pininfarina design team wanted to create. The maximisation of the use of shared components was also extended to the upper part of the vehicle and the whole roof assembly, rather than being limited to the chassis, as is usually the case.

The great challenge was therefore to design the upper structures of the two cars so that they would have different heights and, therefore, clearly different cabin volumes. This technical solution made it possible to produce, on the one hand, a lower, more streamlined and dynamic roof, and on the other, a taller, more spacious roof, while using the same windscreen glass and the same upper and lower cross members. To achieve this, the windscreen frames were designed as single piece, profiled and curved elements, which can be fixed to the base of the A pillar at two different rakes.

This architecture uses specific C pillars for each car, which connect the common fender and lower body skeletal structures with the roof assembly.
Furthermore, a common waistline was used in both vehicles. All the sections necessary to permit the use of either steel body skin or composite SMC heat polymerised panels were then studied in detail.

…for niche market production.
The niche market segment is significant in terms of business and image, and to introduce quality and increase diversification in a manufacturer’s vehicle ranges.
For this reason, Pininfarina must be recognised as a potential partner for the outsourcing of either partial or complete manufacturing processes, from the realisation of the unfinished body shell right up to the construction of complete, ready to drive vehicles. A working partner which is capable of adopting new solutions to flexibly respond to the specific needs of manufacturers or their respective plants, in terms of product quality, delivery times and costs. In addition to all this, the vehicles created must be of sophisticated design and technological content, which can engender interest and desire in the limited edition vehicle consumer.

For this reason, the Double-Face project has also included the analysis of hypothetical production processes for both models. The manufacturing capability is based on the Pininfarina production model. A projected volume of 60,000 vehicles over five years is contemplated for the off-road version, whereas a volume of 100,000 vehicles over five years is envisaged for the road-going version.

Starting with the principal objective in mind – the identification of a process which will keep down investment and tooling costs for the manufacture of niche market volumes – a hybrid assembly line was decided upon for the assembly of the body shell, which will be able to handle both models.
The painting facility is also shared, with the exception of the processes involving composite material skin components for the off-road model.

Trim fitting processes will be performed by a main shared finishing line, which will be fed by two different methods: in the case of the road-going SUV model, cars are conveyed directly from the conventional painting facility to the main finishing line; the off-road version, on the other hand, first undergoes(with the exclusion of skin elements) cataphoresis treatment and priming, and is then sent to a satellite line where thecomposite material skin elements are assembled onto the metal structure; after this stage, the car is conveyed to the main finishing line.

This system allows two different cars at the same state of assembly to be introduced into the start of the main finishing line, thus making the line itself less susceptible to any future model variations.

Thanks to anonymous…

Keith Adams

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