CORDIS - EU research results

A seamless, continuous torque multispeed Automated Manual Transmission technology that increases fuel and power efficiency

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Z-Tech (A seamless, continuous torque multispeed Automated Manual Transmission technology that increases fuel and power efficiency)

Reporting period: 2016-08-01 to 2016-10-31

PROBLEM: The transmission in any motorised vehicle is a system of gears, located between the engine and the wheels, that literally “transmits” the power generated by the engine to drive the vehicle. The world is dominated by two forms of transmission, the manual transmission (MT) and the Automatic Transmission (AT). MT has a manually operated single dry clutch whilst the AT uses wet clutches that are automatically controlled. MT offers the advantages of simple manufacturing design, reliability, ease of maintenance, direct vehicle control, good fuel economy and an efficiency of ~97% for a representative drive cycle . On the down side, studies which monitor stress by measuring human heartbeat have shown that drivers of manual-transmission vehicles do experience significantly more stress than those in automatics . It also takes skill and practice to proficiently master a MT. Furthermore, gear shifts are sometimes not smooth, which causes discomfort for motorcyclist/car driver and/or passengers who will notice an interruption of engine torque to the wheels when the transmission is between gears. In severe situations the interruption of torque can cause dynamic instability of the vehicle resulting in loss of control. On the other hand, AT provides the ease of driving, smoother shift quality while the transmission picks the right gear for you. The downsides of AT are their manufacturing complexity, reduced performance and lower fuel economy because of the lower efficiency of the transmission. Not only are there parasitic losses to account for to operate the hydraulic pump, but large amounts of slip in the torque converter generates heat loss which warms the transmission fluid rather than provide torque to the wheels. Over a representative drive cycle the efficiency of an AT can be as low as 86%2. In the recent past, several attempts have been made to deliver a torque transmission system which resolves the weaknesses of both AT and MT systems. The rise of Automated Manual Transmissions (AMTs), Dual Clutch Transmissions (DCTs), and Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVTs) are examples of these recent developments. An unmet challenge for AMTs, however, is the reduction of torque interrupt to improve shift comfort for the driver/rider. It is possible to increase the complexity of the shift system to reduce shift time, but this does not solve the problem. The reduction in shift time is constrained by torque roll-off and roll-on from the engine and therefore the limit is comfort and not actuator performance or engine response.

IMPRTANCE FOR SOCIETY: The global need for an efficient & sustainable mobility has become more urgent for cities as traffic, congestion, parking space availability are becoming ever greater concerns for citizens. These challenges are accompanied by issues of increasing costs for transportation in terms of money as well as time. Use of motorcycles as an alternative mode of transport contributing to optimising urban mobility is on the rise & the reported increase in number of motorcycles on the road in the last 5 years is the direct evidence of that. Some of the global challenges associated with the motorcycles revolve around increasing riding comfort, fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. Our prposed technology 'Z-Tech' through its unique features and benefits to the motorcycle manufacturers and riders will help global uptake of comfortable and fuel efficient motorcycles. More seamless linear acceleration availability using Z-Tech means smaller engines can be fitted to the large vehicles which further improves fuel efficacy.

OVERALL OBJECTIVES: The overall objective of this innovation project is to develop a seamless, efficient, continuous torque multispeed Automated Manual Transmission with an increased efficiency of ~8% over MT gearbox, power efficiency of ~98% and a manufacturing cost of ~€700. Within this broader picture, as a first step we undetook Phase 1 project, the overarching objective of which is to conduct a techno-economic feasibility study to determine the commercial viability of Z-Tech for our target markets. Key objectives, which were successfully acheived, are
1 - Market Evaluation, to gain an up to date understanding of the market opportunities within the motorcycles, electric vehicles & performance car markets with specific details: VoC based validation of specification requirements; market dynamics; end user willingness to pay & most appropriate licensing models; and identifying challenges & opportunities in global markets over the next 5 years
2 - Technical Analysis, to address any conceptual or design challenges identified through VoC in Market Analysis to progress to final production stage. Assess any potential impacts and improvements using life cycle analysis, and highlight any potential technical and/or commercial risks with correlating mitigations
3 - Confirm any Intellectual Property impediments, through a patent search and Freedom to Operate (FTO) analysis, targeted to specific Markets (UK, EU or Third Country, etc.) and opportunities to extend the existing patents portfolio for additional IP protection through further patent applications and other methods of IPR
4 - Supply-chain development (to manufacture and test beta scale prototypes during Phase 2 ) to identify and/or recruit:
• commercial partners with relevant accreditations to build a scalable supply chain with sufficient capacity to deliver commercial volumes of Z-Tech prototypes for motorcycles to be tested and validated at test houses and by Harley Davidson whilst ensuring compliance with the regulations and standards
• technical partners to plug the skills gaps identified to complete the development to commercial readiness; end users and independent test houses to provide assistance with environment trialling and validation
5 - Develop a future Phase 2 project plan to clarify activity required to create a commercial manufacturing process
6 - Create a project-specific Business plan with a strong sales and marketing plan that overcomes the challenges of reaching key markets; Sales forecast; market opportunity, competition, risks, commercialisation strategy, IP strategy and financial projections; a strong financial and investor plan Carry out regulatory review by engaging with the relevant authorities.
After undertaking relevant activities, we have developed an in-depth understanding of the likely criteria demanded by manufacturers of motorbikes. Manufacturers placing a growing emphasis on CO2 and fuel economy to ensure their products comply with regulations as they are established. Z-Tech assists motorcycle manufacturers in achieving this in a way that still provides the rider with the “mechanical connection” during a gear change as opposed to an automatic or dual clutch systems. Also of major importance is the ability to fit within the boundaries and fixed bearing positions of current manual transmissions.

The Phase 1 grant has enabled us to complete an in-depth market study, on completion of which, having reviewed and analysed the data collected, we conclude that there is a viable market opportunity for Z-Tech initially in road motorcycles. We will continue to watch the progress of the electric vehicle market as it matures with higher performance vehicles being a likely adopter of multi gear technology. From our contact with Harley Davidson and Aprilia, we have already begun developing what is likely to become our initial route to market.

A new transmission architecture and control strategy for an improved use of the latest Zeroshift Intellectual Property has been developed around Harley Davidsons specification, however the architecture could be transferred to other manufacturers. The study has shown that we can package the new architecture within the boundaries of a manual transmission, and we have produced a 3-D CAD solution. The study has also highlighted 2 areas of potential new IP and a patent search has been conducted which will be evaluated further during the Phase 2 project.

Whilst the aim is for the technology to be licenced to motorcycle manufacturers we first need to convince them of the technology so we will be required to build a number of prototypes in house to do this during the phase 2 project. We have successfully mapped out the supply chain for hardware and software to enable us to integrate the Z-Tech drive trains for in house testing. We have also confirmed the interest of Harley Davidson and Aprilia for on-vehicle testing during the project.

In planning the further development programme for Z-Tech, we gained a clear understanding of the work required to develop Z-Tech to TRL9. We have built a work plan that is manageable, affordable and realistic to achieve. During the preparation of the Phase 2 proposal, it is envisaged that further refinements will be made to the structure and cost, to deliver a robust plan for scale-up and commercialisation.

The wider market is large enough to support more than one competing solution, therefore we consider that the threat of competing viable alternatives also reaching the market does not constitute a major barrier to successful commercialisation by Zeroshift (though this is an area that must be monitored to assure the sustainability of the business). As a result of this Phase 1 project, we have been able to review our business strategy, and to construct a robust business plan, with realistic and achievable financial forecasts.
Zeroshift will therefore proceed with our plans to reach market as soon as possible, in order to capitalise on timing of key market drivers, and establish Z-Tech as the technology of choice for motorcycle drive trains, and to bring our business plan to fruition.
PRGORESS BEYOND THE STATE OF THE ART: Our proposed technology “Z-Tech” enables a transmission to deliver continuous torque throughout a gearshift event. Z-Tech is unique in its ability to offer the efficiency of a manual and shift quality of a DCT. Z-Tech surpasses competing transmission technologies in the reduction of torque interrupt during a gear shift in order to improve efficiency, performance and shift comfort. Compared to its competitors, Z-Tech brings the benefits of
- Lower cost as compared to MT, AT, CVT and DCT gearboxes
- Smoother shift quality
- Better acceleration performance
- Ease of maintainence due to simple internal components
- Lower weight
- Lower fuel consumption as no fuel is wasted during the gear changing event
- Adaptability to the existing transmission architecture
- Reduced CO2 emission resulting from decreased fueling requirements and hence helping motorcyle industry to meet Regulation (EU) No 168/2013

DCT systems are the main competitive solution for motorcycles and we have already proven the ability of Z-Tech, as confirmed by our early adopters Harley Davidson, to deliver the functionality and package within the space available in the motorcycle gearbox. Where Z-Tech will be ~€500 cheaper than DCT, adaptability to the existing transmission architectures and 20% more compact, we have also proven that relative to DCTs, the transfer of torque between gears always takes place between a friction clutch and a Zeroshift hub. This leads to both a shift quality improvement and/or a reduction in control system costs through simplification of the control requirements. Moreover, the Z-Tech mechanism fits in an existing package envelope and unlike alternative systems, the Zeroshift mechanism can be assembled in existing factories.


Zeroshift Transmissions Ltd: We anticipate that the cost of development over a five-year period would be €1.5million based upon R&D investments, IP costs and market introduction. This would allow us to achieve a turnover of €23.63 million, profits of €18.9 million and a return on investment of 5.82:1 over 5 years post commercialisation. Successful delivery of the Phase 1 project has enabled us to secure the required supply chain involvement, create IP strategy to extend our exisitng IP portfolio, enabled us to gain extensive voice of customer in several markets, establishing licensing models and outline technological development for the follow on Phase 2 project.

Main economic benefits to manufacturers: Manufacturers who will purchase the gearboxes (i.e. motorcycle, performance cars and EV manufacturers) will experience a saving of up to ~€500 in unit price compared to AT, CVT and DCT gearboxes. On a typical drive the Z-Tech AMT demonstrates a marked improvement in fuel economy over an MT. Fuel consumption is reduced while changing gear, which results in cheaper fuel costs for the end users.