Interview with Prof. Dr. Ferit Küçükay

Interview with Prof. Dr. Ferit Küçükay

Prof. Dr. Ferit KüçükayAt the 4th International CTI Transmission symposium “Automotive Transmissions, HEV and EV Drives” in Shanghai we spoke to Professor Dr. Ferit Kücükay, an expert in the field of transmission gear.

In a short interview he told us about his predictions for the future of the transmission industry and the changes and challenges in drivetrain technology. With our place of event in mind we also discussed the Chinese market.

Professor Küçükay, including electrical vehicles, what is the trend in the technical development of automobile transmission systems?

Prof. Küçükay: In general, the trends concerning the development of transmissions for the conventional drivetrains like AT, AMT, DCT are:
Efficiency improvement, bigger gear ratio spread combined with more gears up to 10, light weight, compact design layout, on-demand actuation, modularity (means: one transmission that can be easily modified in combination with different engines), costs, intelligent operation strategy.

And what about the trends for transmissions in hybrid powertrains?

Prof. Küçükay: Here we have to distinguish between hybridization based on the conventional transmission and hybridization based on new transmission concepts. Based on conv. one’s hybridization is done by installing of electric motor in the transmission. This type of transmission is very common, because this kind of hybridization can be realized with relatively low effort.

The 2nd group of transmissions are special concepts concerning the hybrid powertrain. Their layout is fully different than the conventional ones. Those transmissions are called for example as active transmission, dedicated hybrid transmission or multimode transmission. Their advantage is more compactness and providing different driving modes with less number of gears.

Transmissions for pure electric cars are fully different than the previous ones. Most of electric vehicles use single-speed transmission. But in the future, 2-speed and 3-speed transmission for EV will be used more widely. They have better driving performance, acceleration and climbing ability as well as less energy consumption at the same time.

What kind of technological changes will be in the conventional drivetrain market?

Prof. Küçükay: The main development target of conventional drivetrain is to reduce fuel consumption, to increase comfort, drivability, performance and vibration behaviors at the same time. With optimization of combustion engine alone at reasonable costs, the reduction of fuel consumption will reach 20% with technologies like friction reduction, actuation on-demand, turbocharging, down speeding, VCT (Variable Camshaft Timing) and VCM (Variable Cylinder Management). For further fuel reduction, the electrification like micro and mild hybrid of the powertrain will be the better way, starting from micro and mild hybridization using small electric motor up to 15 kW.

At present many new energy policies are issued and the market is rapidly maturing. What do you, as CTI, think of this development?

Prof. Küçükay: The government is interested in the reduction of emission and fuel consumption. The way to go in the long term is electrification. That’s why the government issued the new rules, generating pressure on the vehicle manufacturers, because the electrification of vehicles is the only way to avoid local emissions. The car manufacturers have responded with increasingly more NEVs. For example, VW will bring about 20 new electric vehicle models on Chinese market until 2018. Almost every 2 weeks, new electric car model appears on the market.

The Chinese government is acting in my opinion very systematically and exemplarily, investing lots of resources in the infrastructure and technology development. With the new energy policies, the government has sent a clear signal to the Chinese automotive industry.
It is clear that emobility needs a clear governmental boost in form of subsidies. Otherwise it will take much longer to have a remarkable volume of elec. vehicles on the market. And car manufactures have been investing high efforts in the electric vehicles and expect the adequate return and feedback from the market soon.

Based on your experience from last three CTI Symposia, where do you see the “weak point” in china’s transmission industry? (Lack of talent/experience/technology/policy?)

Prof. Küçükay: China has enough very good automotive engineers. This is a strong base for the know-how building. This knowhow building process can be boosted by joint ventures between Chinese and foreign companies. The governmental support for that kind of joint ventures especially for the suppliers would be useful. Because approx. 70% of value-added share of a vehicle are resulting from the supplier. It should be noted that the joint venture regulation applies exclusively for OEMs, however, not for the suppliers including the transmission manufactures.
Regarding the experience and technology: The technology is connected to the experience. They must be considered coupled. Again, joint ventures are useful in that case because they share the knowledge. The knowledge can only be increased if you share it.

Compared to the previous CTI Symposia what was the highlight of the CTI Symposiumsin Shanghai this year?

Prof. Küçükay: The highlights of this year’s CTI symposium are the following subjects:
– Fully new efficiency technologies to improve powertrain efficiency and fuel consumption.
– New hybrid-powertrain concept: BMW hybrid-powertrain with eight-speed hybrid module.
– Effects of connectivity and autonomous driving on drivetrain development.


If you missed the international symposium in Shanghai you still have the chance to attend the 14th International CTI Symposium EUROPE . From 7.- 10. December it will take place in Berlin and feature new approaches to the transmission industry’s cutting-edge technology.