Antonov plc has secured its first confirmed customer in China—Lifan Motors—for its new TX6 six-speed automatic transmission system. The TX6 will be applied in Lifan’s mid-sized sedans from late 2010.
A 1.6-liter demonstration vehicle is currently at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which will support more demonstrations to another five potential customers. These include Geely, which has expressed strong renewed interest in the Antonov technology now that the performance and efficiency of its transmission system has been proven.
In January 2007, Antonov had signed a Production License Agreement with Zhejiang Geely Automobile Gearbox Co, the transmission manufacturing subsidiary of Geely Automotive. This followed an announcement on 27 November 2006 that Geely and Antonov had signed Heads of Agreement for the license, which is for the production of the Company’s TX6 six-speed automatic transmission. (Earlier post.) However, in November 2007, Antonov’s board announced that the company would not go ahead with its cooperation with Geely. The initial production licence lapsed in September 2007.
Antonov signed an agreement with Loncin in September 2007 to work together to set up a manufacturing joint venture in Chong Qing, where the two companies will set up their automatic transmission manufacturing plant.
Antonov’s major innovation for an electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission is based on new kinematics and structural design, which has achieved for the first time a combination of planetary gears and parallel transfers of power.
The traditional torque converter has been eliminated, reducing cost, weight and size, while improving mechanical efficiency. In addition, the transmission uses components similar to those of current production automatics, offering Chinese carmakers low development costs and the ease of introducing a new product into production. The transmission is protected by worldwide patents.