Massive Chinese CV market discovers automated manual transmissions

Most Chinese commercial vehicles still have manual transmission, but demand for automated manual transmissions is rising and the potential is huge. Having acquired Bosch Transmission Systems, their on-road commercial vehicle transmission components business in Japan to complement its existing product portfolio, Knorr-Bremse says that it is ideally positioned to meet this demand in Asia.

Most Chinese commercial vehicles still have manual transmission, but demand for automated manual transmissions is rising and the potential is huge. AMT (Automated Manual Transmission) systems improve active safety, enhance driving comfort and reduce fuel consumption, exhaust emissions and component wear. With the acquisition of TRS, Knorr-Bremse says that it has significantly increased its in-house expertise.

Most Chinese commercial vehicles still have manual transmission, but demand for automated manual transmissions is rising and the potential is huge. AMT (Automated Manual Transmission) systems improve active safety, enhance driving comfort and reduce fuel consumption, exhaust emissions and component wear. With the acquisition of TRS, Knorr-Bremse says that it has significantly increased its in-house expertise.

“The growth rates in Asia for automated clutch and gear shift systems in commercial vehicles are enormous,” says Dr. Peter Laier, Member of the Executive Board of Knorr-Bremse AG responsible for the Commercial Vehicle Systems division: “In Europe, four out of five heavy-duty trucks are sold with automated transmission, whereas in China this trend is just beginning.” The market potential is huge, given that the Chinese commercial vehicle market is already two to three times the size of its European counterpart.

However, Knorr-Bremse says that it’s focus in this region is not restricted to heavy-duty trucks. As a rule, in this vehicle class pneumatic systems are used because of the high actuation forces involved. For medium and light commercial vehicles, however, electromotive and hydraulic transmission management systems tend to be called for. With the completion of its acquisition of the Bosch Transmission Systems division in Japan (TRS) on March 31 2017, Knorr-Bremse has significantly increased its in-house expertise in both of these market segments. 113 employees joined Knorr-Bremse as a result of the acquisition, greatly adding to the capabilities of the local team in Sakado, Japan.

As a result, Knorr-Bremse now covers the entire range of transmission management systems. A large proportion of the engineering and manufacturing is already carried out in Asia, with the customer deciding whether to automate an existing manual transmission and flange the control systems onto it or opt for a new, fully integrated automated manual transmission (AMT). In either case, the AMT package from Knorr-Bremse includes a gear control unit, a clutch actuator and various sensors for gathering data on engine speed, pressure, position, temperature or the driver’s gear-shifting intentions, as well as all the electronics and the necessary development work – particularly for the software.