At the recent CTI transmission Symposium in Berlin, Graziano, the Italian manufacturer of high-end transmissions, issued a press release, which included an announcement regarding a new investment which is currently being finalised, writes CSM analyst Chris Guile.
It involved a new company called Vocis Driveline Controls, which was formed recently by four engineers and one project manager, all of whom previously worked at Ricardo. All five have direct experience of transmission control and software systems, with particular emphasis on the emerging Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) technology. Having worked on projects including the Bugatti Veyron DCT, and probably also the DCT-800 on the Chrysler ME Four-Twelve concept car, they can rightly claim to be at the forefront of this very interesting technology.
To date, Graziano’s clients have worked with their chosen suppliers of calibration and control systems. In the case of the Automated Manual Transmissions (AMTs) this is Magneti Marelli. Now, however, Graziano can legitimately say that it has these services available, if not in house, at least close to hand.
Graziano was originally a manufacturer of transmission components, such as gears, shafts, synchroniser packs etc, but the automotive division got its break in 1997 when it started to manufacture high-torque, low-volume transaxle transmissions for Ferrari, and then later for Maserati and Lamborghini.
Since then it has added Aston Martin to its list of clients, with the DB9 and V8 Vantage, and more recently the Alfa Romeo 8C and Audi R8. Whilst currently supplying only manuals and AMTs, Graziano is also developing a new 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), with a torque rating of 750N.m, for use in an un-named future supercar.
According to estimates from CSM Worldwide, Graziano manufactured approximately 3,800 passenger car transmissions in 2000. By the end of 2006 this is expected to have risen to between 18,000 and 20,000 units. Looking at the wider market for DCTs, CSM estimates that by 2012 approximately 7.5-8.5% of all European-built, light-duty vehicles will be fitted with a DCT.
As for Vocis, their engineers will almost certainly get to work on some very interesting future DCT programs, although they are unlikely to publicly say which ones. Having said this, we can be reasonably certain that they will work their magic on the Graziano DCT! Managing Director of Vocis, Mike Everitt, has said that many other potential clients have already made contact with them, with a view to using their obvious expertise, despite Vocis having kept a relatively low profile so far.
Chris Guile is a Powertrain Analyst with CSM Worldwide