In Sint-Truiden, gearbox manufacturer Punch Powertrain has kickstarted the production of components for the eDCT transmission for Stellantis. The gearbox will be assembled in the car giant’s 1,2 million vehicles, providing substantial CO2 savings. “Our patented technology enables us to bring sustainable technologies to global markets at affordable cost,” said Jorge Solis, CEO of Punch Powertrain.
The production start for the eDCT transmission is a milestone, as Punch Powertrain has been struggling to reinvent itself in these shifting times for the automotive industry.
As part of the relaunch plan ‘Gear up the future 2.0’, the company set up a joint venture with Stellantis at the Belgian site to prepare itself for a new type of gearbox increasingly gaining popularity, especially on the European market.
Second assembly hall in Italy
The factory in Sint-Truiden only makes the components for the gearbox, with the final assembly located in Metz, France, and Mirafiori, Italy. At full capacity, 600 000 key components can be manufactured per year.
After the ramp-up phase, this peak should be met in 2024. In addition, a second joint venture between Punch and Stellantis has set up another production hall in Mirafiori with precisely the same output to supply the Italian factory.
Solis calls the eDCT transmission their flagship model. Compared to a conventional gearbox, it has numerous advantages, as it contains 15 percent fewer parts and is 7 percent lighter. As a result, the production cost is lower than with a conventional gearbox, and profitability increases.
Debut next year
The e-DCT is compatible with 48-volt technology and provides CO2 savings of no less than 20 percent. It is developed for hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars and works with a double clutch. So, it’s a robotized manual transmission, providing a more economical footprint next to conventional automatics with planetary gear sets.
The first cars to benefit from the new gearbox are the Peugeot 3008 and 5008, welcoming a new generation by the beginning of next year. Then, in a second phase, it will feature in cars from the Stellantis brands Alfa-Romeo, Citroën, Fiat, Jeep, and Opel, using the same driveline.
Back on track
The manufacturing switch in Sint-Truiden went accompanied by fresh investments by both joint venture partners (Punch Powertrain is co-owned by Chinese shareholders) for constructing a test center and purchasing new machinery.
The good news for the region is that 100 new workforces were recruited since the beginning of the year. They will be joined by 250 more as production rises to its peak.
Already since 1972, Punch Powertrain has specialized in gearboxes. It made the CVT or continuously variable transmission for DAF in the days, but the company hit a slump in recent years as that gearbox fell out of vogue.
Painful lay-offs accompanied the process. However, the current partnerships have put the factory, which also manufactures a double-clutch transmission for the Indian market under an agreement with Tata, back on track.
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