Antonov Automotive Technologies, developer of a radical new type of automatic transmission, has made some big changes in the past few months, writes Mark Wilkinson.

Firstly, Martin Schinzig replaced long-standing CEO, Mike Emmerson, in February 2003. Then, the company went back to the drawing board and came up with a new layout for a brand new fifth generation of its ground-breaking six-speed 6AAD transmission. The fourth generation 6AAD driven by the press last year was found to be quite impressive, but despite its low weight and size, the gearshift quality was deemed to be insufficient for tomorrow's customers.

The new fifth generation 6AAD promises to be even lighter and more durable, with a much-improved shift quality, because it will be built to high tolerances using mass production techniques, says Schinzig. Also, Antonov will this time be accompanied by a strong partner: the company is in currently in presentation and negotiation phase with Dana, GKN, Hoerbiger, Metaldyne and Thyssen Krupp - Dana has already contributed greatly on the technical side, adds Schinzig.

Antonov's display at this year's IAA show in Frankfurt saw substantial interest in the firm's four-speed 4AAD unit - this time from Chinese vehicle and transmission manufacturers. China's high-volume manufacturing capability would be a perfect match for the 4AAD, says Schinzig, because it is a low-cost, easy-to-produce unit.

For more detailed information on Antonov's technologies and strategy, click here.