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Antonov JV plans plant in China

United Kingdom’s Antonov transmission firm and its Chinese production partner, Chongqing Landai Industry Corp., are proceeding with plans to build Antonov 6-speed transmissions that would be used for applications with 1.5-liter to 2.0-liter engines on China-built vehicles.

The joint venture already has started erection in China of a new 17.2-million-square-foot plant, whose goal for completion is mid-2012, said Antonov Automotive Technologies managing director Simon Roberts, interviewed by phone at his Warwick headquarters in July.

Roberts said Antonov’s first automaker customer will be Lifan Industry Group, which has agreed to purchase at least 20,000 TX-6 transmissions for its light vehicles next year.

Lifan already is a key Landai customer, purchasing about 50,000 to 60,000 manual transmissions annually. Roberts said Antonov is pursuing standard and EV transmission supply arrangements with “four or five” other automakers in China, several of which are also interested in Antonov’s newly developed EV (electric vehicle) gearbox which has 3-speed capability with a “parallel-shaft” dual-clutch transmission.

Antonov is looking at prices ranging from $1,292 to $1,435 for its China-built transmissions, according to Roberts, who pointed out that prices on imported gearboxes run up to $1,579 to $1,794, with duties charged by the Beijing government.

The Antonov EV transmission uses clutches only to shift gears, said Roberts, inasmuch as the electric motor starts and runs the vehicle.

Antonov transmissions are in demand in China for light commercial vehicles, according to Antonov CEO Joseph E. Hoag, who succeeded the retired company founder, Rouman Antonov, and has steered the venture into being a producer as well as a developer.

“Antonov’s automatic transmissions,” said Roberts, “are ideal for indigenous automakers who must price their vehicles below multinational joint venture brands to stay competitive.” 

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