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Antonov designs new high-efficency gearbox for electric vehicles

Contrary to popular belief, there is as much reason to downsize electric motors as there is for an internal combustion engine (ICE). Enter Antonov, a UK automatic transmission developer of a unique 3-speed power shift transmission specifically for electric vehicles.

The Antonov website further reveals how it optimized the transmission for efficiency, package space and shift quality. It is scalable which means it can be configured for all electric vehicle applications including commercial vehicles, buses and passenger cars, both in longitudinal and transverse installations.

In particular, Antonov explains why a multi-speed transmission is even necessary, considering electric motors offer a wide torque curve compared to IC engines. Fact is, electric-motor efficiency reduces significantly outside the 'sweet spot' of the speed range, especially at low speed. For this and other reasons, a multi-speed transmission offers significant benefits to all types of electric vehicles.

The overall benefits of a multi-speed transmission are plentiful. First, the motor operates in its most efficient speed range. It avails the option to extend vehicle range or use a smaller battery pack; even a smaller electric motor can be specified. This alone allows greater flexibility of motor supplier selection.

On the performance side, vehicle launch and cruising speed are improved, because the vehicle energy can be managed to suit driving modes (for example performance or range). This next one, though, can be missed unless you’re really attuned to EVs: Low gear can be selected for increased regenerative braking.

The article in Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology (January Edition), though, was more specific about its novel hydraulic circuit, a design features which has the potential to be integrated with an oil-cooled traction motor. This provides an effective means of cooling the motor whenever the vehicle is stationary, which is precisely when all electric motors suffer the most from their own heat.

The 3-speed transmission will be installed in two prototype vehicle programs in Q1, 2011, both with potential for serial production thereafter.

More About Antonov

Since being listed on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange (Euronext) in 1997, Antonov has focused on the commercialization of its intellectual property by investing in product development, research and continued innovation, from concept through to production, to bring products to market.

Aside from the 3-speed power-shift transmission for electric vehicles, Antonov's core products are a 6-speed 'TX6' automatic transmission, and a small 2-speed automatic gearbox for engine driven accessories.

The company has also partnered with three key players in the global automotive market, and more specifically the China market. They include the following:

Chongqing Landai Industry Co., Ltd., a privately held transmission manufacturing company located in Bishan Town, with an excellent network of OEM clients within China and also export products to Korea and Iran.

The Hofer Group, established in 1980 in Germany as an engineering company, develops and industrializes systems within the powertrain, coupled with measurement, testing. Production techniques, form Hofer´s core competence.

Magna Powertrain (TSX: MG; NYSE: MGA), the most diversified automotive supplier in the world, designs, develops and manufactures automotive systems, assemblies, modules and components, and engineer and assemble complete vehicles, primarily for sale to original equipment manufacturers, (OEMs), of cars and light trucks in three geographic segments - North America, Europe, and Rest of World (primarily Asia, South America and Africa).

Additional Reading:
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Brookhaven Lab phase discovery may convert waste heat to electricity