The activities of the R&D team in Sint-Truiden range from product improvement of the current production transmission via new applications of the existing products, the development of new components, transmissions and powertrains to research on new components, transmissions and powertrains.
The product improvements have a strong focus on the customer. R&D supports the Quality and After Sales and Service departments with customer complaints and gets a direct feedback for product improvement. Apart from that there is a strong focus to further improve the fuel economy of VT2 and VT3 powertrains to keep them performing with the best gearboxes available in the market. Results of this fuel economy improvement were shown at the CVT2010 congress in Maastricht. Further improvements focus on increasing the performance and comfort of the transmissions, as well as continuously reducing the cost.
We fully appreciate the need to work in close partnership with our customers and therefore we offer specific application engineering support. This covers:
- packaging studies
- specific parts design
- vehicle performance and fuel consumption simulations
- performance adaptation to specifications
- joint calibration activities
- integrated project management
- technical assistance during approval procedures
The listed engineering support allows us to minimise the lead time for our application projects to exceed practically any OEM’s expectations.
Research and Development projects
By using the V-cycle development approach, both mechanical design as well as control system development can be done simultaneous. The control system development uses a model based design approach by using physical models in every validation loop in the design process (MiL, SiL and HiL).
The Research and Development projects not only focus on new transmissions, but also on new components and new powertrains.
VT4 is a new member of the Punch Powertrain CVT family. Where VT2 and VT3 are designed for front wheel drive transmissions with transverse engine installation, VT4 is being developed for a Four Wheel Drive vehicle with longitudinal engine installation. In this transmission the use of VT2 and VT3 parts has been maximised in order to keep the costs down. A Rear Wheel Drive variant can easily be derived from the VT4 transmission. All components have been designed for the same torque levels as the VT3 transmission (220 Nm).
A specific innovation on the VT4 transmission is the use of a torque sensor. This allows us to better monitor torque peaks during off road driving, but also creates the opportunity to use the transmission without CAN communication with the engine.
- HT1 Hybrid Electric Powertrain
The HT1 full hybrid transmission is based upon the VT3 hardware to which an electric motor is connected. By using a so called switched reluctance (SR) motor, a high peak torque can be achieved. This allows Punch Powertrain to connect the electric motor to the output side of the variator, as the ratio coverage of the variator is not required for the SR motor. As a result charging of the battery and boosting in hybrid mode as well as full electric driving can be applied without suffering from transmission losses. Combined with the CVTs ability to keep also the combustion engine in its optimum operating condition as much as possible. Overall this results in fuel economy improvements that are significantly higher than other hybrid powertrains can achieve. HT1 aims to reduce the fuel economy about 35% whereas other hybrid powertrains hardly succeed to achieve 20% improvement vs. the same powertrain with a manual transmission.
All these improvements are realised without affecting the installation length of the transmission or powertrain. Punch can deliver both the transmission as well as the entire powertrain.
- HT2 Flywheel hybrid powertrain
The HT2 Flywheel hybrid transmission is a research project. In this project the VT3 hardware again was the basis for a hybrid powertrain. The HT2 will achieve aims to achieve similar fuel economy improvements as most electric hybrids achieve, but at a significantly lower price. The transmission also contains several other innovations. Again the installation length has not been increased compared to VT3.
- EV Powertrains
Punch Powertrain is currently finalising the design of an Electric Powertrain that uses the same SR technology as is being used in the HT1 powertrains. A small fleet for field testing is being prepared.
Apart from the new components inside the new transmissions, two components will be highlighted here:
- SR motors
The main technological advantage of SR motors is its high peak torque combined in relation to its nominal torque. As a result no gearbox is required between the electric motor and the wheels. This allows us to connect the electric motor to the output side of the variator of the hybrid powertrain and boosting and regenerating can take place without suffering from gearbox losses. This has a positive impact on the the fuel economy of the hybrid powertrain.
Also for the electric powertrain, a variator or gearbox is not required. This reduces complexity and costs.
Apart from its technological advantage, the SR motor also has a cost advantage. Its design is simple and robust, but most importantly it does not use magnets. With the increasing prices for rare earth materials, this will provide an ever increasing cost advantage over magnet motors.
With the new range of powertrains and transmissions that are currently being developed there is a need for a range of new controllers (hybrid control unit, motor controller, transmission controller, etc.). For this purpose a new platform is being developed which will be the basis for this range of controllers. This allows Punch to create an optimum fit to the customer’s specific needs.
Testing facilities and services
The testing of new or improved components, transmissions and powertrains are tested on four purpose-built durability test benches, which enable real road situations to be accurately simulated. The endurance tests simulate the complete lifecycle of a vehicle over diverse driving conditions, equivalent to about 250.000 real life kilometers. For the hybrid powertrains a new durability test bench is being prepared.
The state-of-the-art test facilities at the R&D centre include:
- Chassisdyno including certified fuel consumption measurement equipment
- Powertrain Dyno's
- Hybrid Powertrain Dyno (in preparation)
- Engine dynamometer
- Transmission Dyno's
- Vibration testbench, shaker
- Temperature Chambers, from small parts to complete car
- Closed test track (in preparation)
The R&D testing facilities are also open for tests for or by third parties.
Interested to use Punch Powertrain’s test facilities: please contact firstname.lastname@example.org