P Kaniappan, Managing Director, Wabco India Ltd, elaborates on OptiDrive AMT, its standardised modular transmission solution, easily adaptable to a wide range of existing manual transmissions.
Tell us about the AMT that you have developed. Which segment does it cater to?
Wabco has developed an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT), a modular transmission automation solution, specifically designed for commercial vehicles under the trade name OptiDrive. The highlight of this product is that, it is highly modular which enables it to fit in a diverse range of vehicles with short development time. Wabco OptiDrive AMT converts the standard manual transmission to an automated shift with the help of electro-pneumatic actuators. A clutch is still present in the OptiDrive AMT but it is operated automatically by the system, hence there won’t be a clutch pedal in the vehicle. In an automatic transmission, the whole gearbox itself is different and it uses a torque converter. AMT combines the benefits of manual and automatic transmission with fuel efficiency of manual transmissions and ease of use of automatic transmissions.
What are key advantages of AMT in the vehicles it is fitted on?
Benefits for commercial vehicle:
- Better fuel efficiency as compared to manual transmission and automatic transmission.
- Reduced driver fatigue as drivers will focus more on road traffic than concentrating in pressing clutch and shifting gears.
- Lowers the maintenance cost as AMT prevents abuse of the system by removing manual shifting of gears and clutch pressing.
- Improved clutch life
- Driver retention cost can be lowered by fleet operator as AMT can be easily driven by less experienced drivers.
The OptiDrive AMT is designed to be used on CVs which have air supply. Generally all commercial vehicles in India with >6T GVW have pneumatic supply on board and these vehicles can be fitted with an OptiDrive AMT system. In short, users lower operating costs while improving the safety and comfort.
Is it safe to use? What are the trials conducted to establish the same?
The OptiDrive AMT is safe to use, in fact, it helps in improving the safety of the commercial vehicles as it greatly reduces driver fatigue; a major reason for many accidents on the road. Wabco has conducted extensive trials along with the OEMs over the past few years in order to deliver a safe product to the market.
What are the limitations of AMT? How much is the import content in such transmissions? What your plans for further indigenisation?
The limitation of Wabco AMT is that it can be applicable for vehicles having engine which can transmit controller area network (CAN) signal from engine as input to perform. However, as these types of engines are becoming mandatory in near future for all commercial vehicles, this limitation will not be a roadblock.
What are the cost implications of AMT in terms of initial investment, operation and maintenance costs? What is the impact on fuel consumption?
The initial investment on AMT is compensated by the fuel efficiency that the owner can experience which will give a quick return on investment. Two of the biggest savings from OptiDrive AMT is the reduction in fuel consumption and maintenanc+e costs. It can save up to 5 per cent of fuel for a fleet when compared to similar manual transmission. It saves approximately 10 per cent of fuel for a fleet when compared with automatic transmission. It also improves the clutch life and hence reduces the maintenance costs for the fleets. Hence the return on investment is very impressive with the OptiDrive AMT.
Any special driving and maintenance skills required for AMT?
There are no special skills required for using the OptiDrive AMT. In fact, another big advantage for fleets is that the dependency on skilled drivers can be reduced with an OptiDrive AMT since it becomes very easy for any driver to use.
Is it possible to upgrade and existing commercial vehicle of the same model with AMT? If yes, then how the same can be achieved by the owner?
Wabco offers OptiDrive AMT to the commercial vehicle industry, can be retrofitted to the existing commercial vehicles which are using manual transmission.
How suitable is it for Indian road conditions?
OptiDrive AMT is ideal for Indian traffic conditions since we have a lot of stop-go traffic in both city traffic conditions and highways. It eases the load on the driver in shifting gears and reduces his fatigue. It will also reduce the abuse of the transmission since the automated clutch will prevent the issue of “clutch riding” which is often found with manual transmissions.
How do you visualise the AMT market in India? Where do you see it in the next 10 years? What will be the growth drivers for this market?
We believe that AMT technology is the next big thing for the India market in the commercial vehicle segment. Penetration of AMT is already very high in the European market and it is rapidly increasing in the North American market. The main drivers for the increase in penetration of AMT in India are: reducing driver fatigue, improving safety, reducing dependency on skilled drivers, and better return on investments with improved fuel efficiency and reduced maintenance costs.
What will be the technology trends for the future developments of AMT?
In future, the AMT system will be ready to adapt to the autonomous driving.
How do you differentiate your AMT products from other suppliers?
Wabco has more than 30 years of experience in developing
and manufacturing AMTs across the world. Recently we have crossed the milestone of producing 3 million AMTs. This vast experience has enabled us to produce the most cost-efficient
and reliable AMT system for the
What are the transmission solutions you provide?
Wabco offers two kinds of transmission automation solutions all over the world: Integrated and Modular. Integrated AMT is a more customised solution to the OEMs, but takes little longer development cost and time. Whereas the OptiDrive AMT is a standardised modular solution easily adapts to a wide range of existing manual transmissions and significantly reduces development time and cost, which has been developed mainly for markets such as India and China.
The OptiDrive AMT is safe to use, in fact, it helps in improving the safety of the commercial vehicles as it greatly reduces driver fatigue; a major reason for many accidents on the road.
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