R&D efforts on units suitable for manual vehicles, however, remain strong.
Clutches and parts suitable for semi- and fully automatic transmission systems are slowly gaining traction among China manufacturers. The trend is in line with developments in several countries, including the US and Japan, where automatic vehicles are becoming more popular. In the domestic market, such transportation options are also increasing in number as several carmakers invest in them.
|This clutch disc from CATIC is suitable for Mercedes-Benz cars.|
Changchun Yidong is one of the suppliers that have released components for semiautomatics. In cooperation with Jilin University, the company came up with a double mass flywheel torsional vibration damper for the dual-clutch gearbox of Chery cars. The product went into production last year.
In November 2008, BorgWarner and 12 domestic enterprises established a joint venture for the manufacture of dual-clutch transmission systems and related parts. Receiving $200 million in funding, this company began production in May this year. The JV is capable of churning out 150,000 to 200,000 sets yearly, but this capacity is expected to rise to 700,000 sets in the next five years. Products will primarily go to China carmakers.
Nonetheless, R&D investment in clutch assemblies and parts for manual transmission systems is ongoing. The line dominates output and exports, with manual variants still the vehicle of choice in the domestic market and a number of developed and emerging economies.
Product development work in the segment concentrates on improving durability and reducing chatter and noise. Many companies are also switching to nonasbestos materials to support the “green” trend in the automotive industry.
Wenzhou Chicheng (C&C) Trading Co. Ltd offers clutch discs that have undergone carburized quenching for improved hardness. One of these, the 128362AU model, adopts a facing made of ceramic, which has a stable friction coefficient.
At Hubei Tri-Ring, vibration-dampening discs are available. These were developed in cooperation with the Wuhan University of Technology.
For heavy trucks, the company also offers diaphragm spring clutches that prevent chatter. The products are made using equipment from France-based Valeo.
Enginejoy Auto Parts Co. Ltd provides clutch servos with air brake boosters. The components are designed to reduce the effort drivers need to operate large cars and trucks.
China suppliers of clutch assemblies and parts see exports remaining on the upswing in coming months. North America will continue to be a key destination, although a number of enterprises intend to boost exports to the Middle East, South America and Africa.
Zhejiang D&H Machinery Co. Ltd will explore opportunities in North America, South Africa and Iran. Its export growth forecast for 2011 is 30 to 50 percent.
Designed mainly for manual transmission systems, this category constitutes the bulk of China’s clutch output. The selection comprises coil and diaphragm spring, and single- and multidisc kinds.
Friction clutch assemblies typically include a disc, cover, flywheel and bearing. Products for motorcycles range from $5 to $38. Designs for cars are available starting at $12, while those for buses and trucks are at least $40.
Versions for heavy trucks bearing known brands are quoted above $80. Zhejiang D&H, a maker specializing in this upscale segment, provides parts suitable for Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and Renault models.
Among the subassemblies, clutch discs and covers are popular exports.
The former are manufactured via stamping. Models come in different steel alloys, with 40 and 65Mn grades the most common. They have a damping spring made of steel alloys such as 60Si2MnA, 50CrVA and 50CrV4, while their facing is in asbestos, ceramic or a semi– or all-metallic material.
Clutch discs are below $6. Prices increase to $90 depending mainly on the friction material and disc diameter.
Low-end models measure 180 to 300mm and employ asbestos. Most of these are suitable for trucks and agricultural vehicles such as tractors.
Designs ranging from $6 to $33 fit cars and light buses. They use metal powder, while more expensive versions employ ceramic. Clutch covers, meanwhile, typically come in stamped low-carbon steel. They have a flange that connects to the flywheel, and some variants have ventilation holes as well.
The products are typically offered with a pressure plate made of cast gray iron. One side of this component is attached to a steel spring via rivets.
Clutch covers for cars with outer diameters reaching 300mm are between $6 and $30 each. Upward to $110 are versions measuring 250 to 430mm for buses and trucks.
Note: This article "Clutch parts for automatics on the rise" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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