Punch Powertrain is gearing up for an electric future
For Punch Powertrain, the move to electric vehicles is seen as one of the key drivers of business growth, and its unique e-propulsion systems are set to contribute to a sustainable world.
As an independent global automotive supplier of innovative and energy-efficient powertrains, Punch Powertrain strives to achieve its bold vision: “Our Powertrains drive a sustainable world!”
“We understand that the mass adoption of electrification depends on the affordability of the offering. Building on our continuous intensive investment in R&D, we offer our customers cost-effective, robust and scalable innovative products with a benchmark time to market,” says Sebastien Mazoyer, EV Business Unit Director, and a prominent figure in the industry.
Mr Mazoyer, who joined Punch Powertrain last year, has a wealth of expertise in electrified propulsion systems, as well as a proven track record in Business Development and Sales. Having been stationed throughout Asia and Europe during his career, he possesses a profound understanding of the global automotive market and the ability to drive multi-cultural team performance in a global corporate environment.
The test centre
He points out that over the course of the last few years, Punch Powertrain has invested intensively in its products, their industrialisation as well as in testing, in order to bring agile and scalable solutions to the market.
Time-to-market & rationalization in the development of automotive powertrains results in an ever-increasing focus on efficient product validation in terms of cost, lead time and environmental footprint.
Additionally, e-drives will be more and more part of, or will be the only, power unit in the drivetrain architecture of passenger cars, making new specific NVH aspects as gear whine and electromagnetic whine from e-machines and inverters increasingly important as part of total product performance and end-customer satisfaction. Highly controlled conditions and elimination of masking sounds are therefore critical for the successful testing of EV and hybrid powertrains.
At Punch Powertrain a 1100 square metre state-of-the-art new Test Centre was developed and installed in 2019, in line with the ambition to deliver this extensive testing expertise as an added value and support for its customers and the move towards e-mobility. In this process, the company forges partnerships with testing experts, as well as welcoming customers and partners for the use of its facilities.
In addition to cream of the crop hardware, the company accelerates its development process further with its “Virtual Simulation Factory”. The complete product is designed, developed and validated digitally. Each aspect of the performance of the transmission, from mechanical to electronic passing by control, is evaluated and optimised virtually, using the best-in-class software within a dedicated simulation team. The total time for the product development is reduced and secured in terms of durability since the virtual validation is performed in an early phase of the product development.
Investing in partnerships
“The electric vehicle segment is forecast to represent close to 50% of the global automotive market by 2035. This acceleration is driven by increasingly strict regulations, and by decreasing battery cost as well as enhanced electrified infrastructure,” says Mr Mazoyer.
Punch Powertrain is well prepared for this development, having invested both in manufacturing and engineering and having concluded strategic acquisitions and partnerships to accelerate the electrification business.
In 2017, by acquiring TEG, the company got a foothold in the German automotive market and expanded its R&D capability; the acquisition of APOJEE in 2018 enabled further expansion in power electronics R&D. In 2018, Punch Powertrain also formed a joint venture with XPT, a 100% subsidiary of Chinese NIO, a propulsion systems supplier, to make reducers for their electric cars.
While the mature automotive world including the US, Europe and China have set themselves ambitious targets in terms of promoting development towards EV, not all countries are able to move towards the electric future at the same pace. Therefore, Punch Powertrain offers a number of solutions to meet the varied needs of different markets, while still driving its sustainability agenda.
Scalable and modular
“With one-third of our employees working in R&D, we are well-positioned to meet not only current, but also future market requirements. We see e-mobility everywhere, not only in conventional passenger cars with four wheels but across a range of different vehicles. Our e-mobility solutions are therefore adapted to individual needs,” says Mr Mazoyer.
The question is, he continues, how to achieve agile, robust solutions that are still affordable. The answer is product differentiation. By combining standardised building blocks, Punch Powertrain can offer unique, customised e-propulsion solutions, as well as the individual building blocks (mainly inverters and reducers) separately.
The company has 150 people working only on EV solutions based on the three products (motors, transmissions and inverters) and their integration into one system.
“For every component, we want to achieve scalability and modularity, for each customer, we can find a unique solution using standard building blocks and bringing them together into a customised system. Our in-depth expertise in the components, as well as their integration into a highly efficient system is where we deliver value to our customers.”
“Highly efficient and affordable electric drive axles are essential for the mass adoption of electric vehicles, whether it is a battery-electric vehicle, plug-in hybrid vehicle or fuel cell vehicle. Modularity is of the essence to combine customisation towards specific OEM needs,” affirms Mr Mazoyer.
Punch Powertrain does not work in isolation. The company participates in a range of research projects, one of which has just been successfully completed. A consortium of 9 leading vehicle electrification experts have revealed the results of their joint 3-year pan-European research project.
The resultant e-drive combines a myriad of innovations in components and sub-systems, as well as full system integration by Punch Powertrain, resulting altogether in an overall efficiency increase of around 15% and a cost reduction of approximately 8%.
The e-drive was integrated successfully into a commercial vehicle and has undergone a full range of tests, both at unit and vehicle level. Punch Powertrain’s fully equipped state-of-the-art test centre was used to test the drive unit’s performance, efficiency and acoustic behaviour.
“Collaboration is important to us. We work with researchers but also with start-up and medium-sized companies to come up with novel solutions. That’s how we aim to add value to the market and realise our vision to contribute to a more sustainable world.”