[BIZ: St. Trond, August 20]
The Punch Powertrain company from St. Trond in Belgium, a manufacturer of transmission systems is taking over the Drive Train Innovations (DTI) from Eindhoven, which specializes in the development of applications for gearboxes. The transaction should provide Punch Powertrain with the opportunity to strengthen its position on the growing Asian market and to respond to the increasing demand for innovative applications.

The two companies have in the past frequently worked together, among other things on the development of a flywheel that can reduce energy consumption in the automotive sector by 30%.

The Dutch engineering company has a staff of 17 and with the change to a new owner it will also be included in the Punch Powertrain development project. In the research division of Punch Powertrain at St. Trond there are more than 150 engineers and developers.

The production plant in St. Trond has a capacity of 240,000 units per year. The actual capacity of the production plant in Nanjing (China) is 150,000 transmission units a year. Currently they are expanding the production site in Nanjing to 300,000 transmission units yearly capacity. Both have outstanding state-of-the-art facilities.

Full production and assembly

They assemble CVT transmissions and manufacture their own control units and CVT pulleys, as these items demand dedicated CNC controlled equipment and specific production know-how.

A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is a transmission that can change steplessly through an infinite number of effective gear ratios between maximum and minimum values. This contrasts with other mechanical transmissions that offer a fixed number of gear ratios. The flexibility of a CVT allows the input shaft to maintain a constant angular velocity over a range of output velocities.
CVT can provide better fuel economy than other transmissions by enabling the engine to run at its most efficient revolutions per minute (RPM) for a range of vehicle speeds. It can also be used to build a kinetic energy recovery system.
Alternatively it can be used to maximize the performance of a vehicle by allowing the engine to turn at the RPM at which it produces peak power. This is typically higher than the RPM that achieves peak efficiency. Finally, a CVT does not strictly require the presence of a clutch, allowing its dismissal. In some vehicles though (e.g. motorcycles), a centrifugal clutch is nevertheless added,[1] however this is only to provide a "neutral" stance on a motorcycle (useful when idling, or manually reversing into a parking space).

Over the last 20 years they have developed particular expertise in high-tech machining and measuring processes, such as hard turning and CBN grinding. Other capabilities include high-precision drilling and milling, specialized gear machining processes, and laser welding techniques to achieve tight tolerances of less than 10 microns.

The whole manufacturing process and assembly process is automated, and further optimized by highly skilled engineers and operators.

Testing procedures in place include chemical structure tests and metal hardness tests. Each complete transmission unit is also subjected to a full operational run, which includes noise level, vibration and leak tests.

State-of-the-art R&D

Their R&D team in St. Trond is constantly looking ahead to invent and develop next-generation CVTs and hybrid powertrains. Activities include concept investigation, design, product development, prototype building and testing, with a clear focus on high performance density, customer satisfaction and minimizing fuel consumption and emissions.

As a result of this innovation they already have driving prototypes of electrical an hybrid vehicles.

Putting units to the test

The testing of transmission units for new designs and improvements takes place on four purpose-built durability test benches, which enable real road situations to be accurately simulated. Endurance tests of 200,000 km simulate the complete lifecycle of a vehicle over diverse driving conditions.

Application engineering

They fully appreciate the need to work in close partnership with their customers and therefore they offer specific application engineering support. This covers packaging studies, specific parts design, performance adaptation to specifications, integrated project management, and technical assistance during approval procedures.


Punch Powertrain offers a complete portfolio of powertrain solutions for the most popular passenger car segments. The portfolio ranges from the CVT based conventional powertrains over different hybrid powertrain options to full electric powertrains. For these powertrains Punch Powertrains develops and manufactures the Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVTs), the electric drives (motor including power electronics) and the transfer cases.

These innovative products provide excellent driving dynamics, enhanced comfort, fun of driving and an ever improving fuel economy.

General Motors has officially announced the sale of its Powertrain manufacturing plant in Strasbourg, France to Punch Metals International, a company of the industrial investor Guido Dumarey. Punch Metals will acquire all of GMís Strasbourg operations, including the production plant, engineering center, and die casting facility; all current employees will be maintained by Punch.

As part of the agreement that secures long-term future of the plant, General Motors has agreed to source supplies from leading automotive supplier ZF, which will in turn purchase transmissions from Strasbourg. As such, GM will continue to be a customer of Strasbourg operations during the 2013/2014 ownership transition period to allow the facility a favorable level of operations and to provide for a smooth handover to the new ZF-based product line without an impact on the plantís employment. It has been rumored that the new ZF product will be an 8-speed automatic transmission.

ZF has said that it welcomes the acquisition of the GM plant in Strasbourg by Punch Metals. ZF was also in the running for the purchase of the facility.

"We see industrial logics in the acquisition of the GM plant by Punch," said ZF's Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Stefan Sommer.

"The free production capacities will help us to meet the high demand for our fuel-saving automatic transmissions."

GM and Punch Metals International, a company of the industrial investor Guido Dumarey, reached an agreement at the end of December that secures the long-term future of the GM Powertrain operations in Strasbourg, France.

Punch Metals will acquire the entire Strasbourg operations from GM, including the production plant, the engineering center and the die casting operation. All current employees of the operations will be maintained by the new owner.

In addition, the transaction includes a long-term supply agreement with ZF - ZF will purchase transmissions (8-speed automatic transmissions) from the Strasbourg facility.

GM said that it will continue to be a customer of the Strasbourg operations during the 2013/2014 period in order to enable the facility to maintain a robust level of activities and to provide for a smooth transition to the new ZF-based product line without impact on employment.

Punch Metals says it plans to make substantial investments into the facility in order to further upgrade its capabilities with the objective to attract additional profitable business from other customers.