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Powertrain Revolution!

Powertrain Revolution!

Driven by stringent requirements, the auto industry is bent upon revolutionising powertrains to deliver emission compliance… with the cost factor in mind.

Automotive powertrains can be defined as the value chain from the output power of the prime mover (internal combustion engine or electric motor) to the driving wheels of an automobile. Energy efficiency, emission compliance, safety, reliability and cost efficiency are the main drivers governing the revolutionary developments in the new-generation power trains. In response to engine and transmission actuation and new technologies to reduce energy losses and recover waste energy, the complexity of powertrain control systems has increased rapidly. OEMs in India have started focusing on alternative fuel/powertrain combinations to gain strategic advantage with stricter emission norms coming into place. There is a need for close partnership with component suppliers, right from the product design and development stage to bring in the requisite innovation. Auto-parts manufacturer Anand India and Federal-Mogul Powertrain formed a joint-venture named as Federal-Mogul Anand Sealings India Limited and Anand I-Power Limited. Both companies entered into an agreement to convert the sealing and piston ring businesses of Anand into joint venture operations. In the newly formed JV, Federal-Mogul Powertrain will hold a 51 per cent stake of the new sealing joint venture; Anand, along with smaller shareholders, will own 49 percent of the operation. This sealing joint venture will be known as Federal-Mogul Anand Sealings India Limited (gasket business). Anand will hold more than a majority stake in the piston ring joint venture, Anand I-Power Limited. “This agreement will create a platform for the businesses to compete both locally and globally, and increase market share going forward,” said Mahendra K Goyal, Anand’s Group President – Aftermarket and Business Group III. Combining Federal Mogul’s technology, research and development capabilities, global customer relationships and advanced manufacturing operations, with Anand’s deep access to local customers and suppliers, and expertise in human resource management and development, will ensure a bright future for the joint ventures.

Significant trends
1. Engine: Engines with port-fuel injection still feature in more than every second petrol-powered vehicle. Downsizing is becoming ever more popular, and with it the efficient and economical Bosch gasoline direct injection systems. Combining gasoline direct injection with downsizing can reduce fuel consumption by up to
15 per cent. At the same time, turbo-charging helps the engine deliver more torque, especially at low engine speeds. This improves acceleration and adds to driving enjoyment.
Bosch offers a complete system that allows vehicles to run on this inexpensive fuel at all times. This is a significant advantage for drivers, since CNG is up to 50 per cent cheaper than petrol, and can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 25 per cent.

Electronically controlled load sensing, fuel injection for both gasoline and diesel fuel with electronic governing and auto mode sensing are the latest inclusions to light weighting in various components like engine blocks, cylinder heads, crankshafts and cam shafts.

The base engine power is augmented by using regenerative modules by addition of Motor Generation Unit (MGU) which transfers energy from brakes and hydraulics to specially developed batteries capable of quick charging and discharging capability. During deceleration, the energy is transferred to the battery while during acceleration the battery augments the engine output power. These systems are more commonly termed as hybrids.

A lot of heat energy was being wasted in the exhaust of an engine. Exhaust driven turbo charging is deployed to increase the density of intake air to an engine by routing the compressed air through an after cooler, to ensure highly improved fuel burning characteristics. Secondly, all the pollutants are also being discharged through the exhaust system. In order to control the emissions, modern automobiles are equipped with an exhaust gas heated catalytic converter which prevents discharge of harmful gases followed by a module of SCR, a means of converting nitrogen oxides, also referred to as NOx, with the aid of a catalyst into diatomic nitrogen (N2) and water (H2O), and Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) to prevent particulates in the exhaust of the vehicle.

Going further, intensive research is in progress for use of alternative fuels like biomass, ethanol and others along with more methods to increase thermal energy efficiency in various parts of the world.

Some other futuristic ideas under research are six-stroke cycle engine and opposed piston engines which may deliver better overall engine performance.

2. Power transmission: The first step in power transmission is the clutch mechanism, to engage and disengage the power unit from the rest of the vehicle during speed change or reversing. In this area, dual clutch, automatic clutch through torque convertor, auto manual and e-clutch systems are finding their way into the vehicles being manufactured in India.

The second step is forward to reverse and speed upshift and downshift operations done through a gearbox or transmission system. For ease of operation, the first to be introduced was hydraulic and electronic assisted power shift. The new upcoming systems are graduating into Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT), Auto Manual Transmission (AMT) and of course the fully automatic transmission. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, in light of the prevalent driving conditions, most urban areas of the country require frequent ‘start-and-stop’ driving mode. In order to achieve better fuel economy and power on demand requirements AMT or Electronic Gear Shift (EGS) have become very popular as affordable driving comfort solutions. Led by Maruti for its Alto and later extended to other models from its stable, this method is gaining momentum with other automakers. TVS, in collaboration with Magneti Marelli and Bosch as standalone supplier, has become the leaders on this front and others are following suit.

It is important to understand that clutch-less transmission is almost the same as manual transmission, but in this case, the clutch operation is automated. Like the manual transmission system, the gear has to be selected by the driver only, depending on her selection, she has to change the gears, but without operating the clutch lever. In this case, an electronically controlled (microprocessor-based) system is used to identify when the driver changes the gear, an electrically operated (power operated) system depresses the clutch automatically when the gear is changed.

The components of the system are almost the same as manual transmission, just than an automated clutch mechanism is added to it for the comfort of the driver. The most tiring part of a manual transmission is to operate the clutch lever; once that it eliminated, the effort is reduced to just selecting and changing gears. In a nutshell, it takes out the tiring part of the driving from the manual transmission and still leaves the choice of changing gears with the driver.

Wheels and tyres

Lightweight but very sturdy aluminium and magnesium alloy wheels have replaced the traditional steel rims. The new generation alloy wheels are fitted with numerous tyre options commensurate with driving requirements. The tyres made of innovative rubber materials and tread designs are being brought forth by all tyre majors to beat the dichotomy of tyre grip for traction being directly proportional to resistance to driving causing drag on the vehicles coupled with variable load patterns emerging out their driving requirement in terms of steering or driving or driven wheels and various climatic and underfoot conditions.

Electric vehicles an option
Electric vehicles (EVs) globally haven’t yet made commercial profits but combined with governmental incentives in polluted cities, they make for a socially beneficial proposition. Under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of hybrid and Electric vehicles (FAME) scheme, which is based on the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020, the EV industry in India is on a firmer ground than before.

The 25 per cent growth in overall EV sales during the April-June 2015 quarter over the previous quarter could be seen as an indication that the industry is finally seeing some traction.
The rising popularity of AMT is not just limited to the passenger vehicle industry and commercial vehicle manufacturers are also betting big on the technology for their products.
India’s commercial vehicle industry is witnessing a changing regulatory landscape and with emphasis on cutting fuel emissions and saving costs, manufacturers are turning towards hybrid and electric technologies to keep up.

Way forward
Success of product development is closely linked to efficacy of local sourcing of components. As players increasingly focus on being cost competitive with better after-sales service, localisation as an imperative is gaining more significance than ever Companies need to develop a robust supplier base and collaborate closely for product design. Product development as a capability can be a key differentiator as companies look at rolling out new models customised for India.

New product development is a key driver of market and financial performance. As such, it is time for Auto India Inc to bring in the required revolution to meet the challenges.

“This agreement will create a platform for the businesses to compete both locally and globally.”

– Mahendra K Goyal,
President – Aftermarket and Business Group III,
Anand Group