Punch Powertrain – Gearing Up in Partnership

Punch Powertrain, a full system supplier of fuel-efficient powertrains, is set to celebrate its 50th anniversary in style: with new product launches, new partnerships, and further business expansion.

Since we last spoke to Belgium-headquartered Punch Powertrain, the company has had a busy year, achieving impressive business objectives and cementing its position as a major force in its sector.

With its 50 years of experience in the development and production of continuously variable transmissions (CVTs), Punch Powertrain has successfully expanded its product portfolio with dual-clutch transmissions (DCTs) as well as propulsion systems for electric and hybrid vehicles.

Last year, CEO Jorge Solis outlined Punch Powertrain’s ambitious plans and we came back to see what progress the company has made in a market that remains volatile post-pandemic.

“We have had a very successful year with several major achievements,” he says. “In the year of the company’s 50th anniversary, 2022, we will be launching new technologies as well as new partnerships. This development is set to continue in 2023.”

He points out that, as before, sustainability continues to drive the company’s development. “Sustainability is our key value and it moves everything we do. From making design choices to reducing physical testing in favour of virtual testing. And we have key factors that differentiate us in these areas. Our innovation is directed at creating more sustainable solutions at affordable cost: through modular design or the invention of more compact, lightweight concepts.”

Reducing Cost Through Invention

Earlier this year, the company launched its proprietary DCT technology – DT1 – with its customer TATA Motors in India, signifying Punch Powertrain’s entry into a new market segment, as well as into new geographical territory – a milestone that will have a significant impact on the company’s growth.

Mr Solis explains that DT1 offers considerable advantages: it uses 35% fewer shifting components and significantly reduces the transmission’s size and weight. This renders the technology more affordable and more accessible, enabling the company’s customers to offer this high-end technology in their smaller car models and in emerging markets.

Launching New Preferred Hybrid DCT

In Europe, Punch Powertrain’s activities within the joint ventures with Stellantis have progressed as planned, resulting in more major achievements – in November, the company’s DT2, a transmission built on Punch Powertrain’s DT1 invention concept and patents, is to enter series production. This is to be followed by the launch of a series production at Stellantis in December. Again, this is an important step towards major business expansion, rendering Punch Powertrain the worldwide leading supplier of Hybrid DCTs as of 2025.

“The DT2, a transmission family built on our DT1 invention concept, has a much smaller environmental impact, compared to competing technologies. With the mild hybrid variant serving as the design base for conventional and plug-in hybrid variants, the 3 variants share over 90% of the components. This commonality enables an OEM to change the production mix of one or the other hybridisation variant on the line very fast while giving economy of scale and cost savings,” explains Jorge Solis, adding that the product is another example of the agility and the modular approach that the company builds into its innovations.

Offering Customized Vehicle Electrification

And finally, in the EV arena, the company has launched the E-Propulsion Technology Kit – an agile and scalable platform of electric sub-systems that allow endless configurations for composing an electric drive to customer specifications.

“For each customer we can offer 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. The toolkit for EV is also more affordable, which is the cornerstone of our strategy,” Jorge Solis affirms.

Digital Factory

He reveals that currently over 30% of Punch’s turnover is invested in R&D. Huge investments are also being made with Stellantis in hybrid production, and Punch is partnering with car manufacturers to bring them its expertise and enable further investments and growth.

A major area of investment, and one of the factors behind this impressive business growth, is Digitalisation, a key topic for Punch. “We are driving a digital transformation, supporting our overall transformation, working towards a fully connected Industry 4.0,” says Mr Solis.

The company has the full development cycle in house which continues to be increasingly digitalized, and the aim is to digitalise all processes extensively, creating connection lines and workflows between people.

A new feature is the Digital Factory & Virtual Testing, where a transmission can be tested in combination with an engine, before the first engine prototype is available, which gives OEMs more flexibility and reduces time to market as well as cost.

Extensive digitalisation is now rolled out with the start of production in the company’s joint production locations with Stellantis, to support the forecast large volumes.

In the Spirit of Partnerships

Jorge Solis affirms that 2022 is a crucial year for Punch Powertrain. “Our 50th anniversary will be marked by the launch of new technology, starting new partnerships, and continuing our path of growth and transformation. For us it is a moment of connecting and coming together, across locations, with our teams, customers and suppliers.”

In this transformative year, the company is rebranding itself to better communicate the key elements of the current business: increased electrification, new products and markets, new culture and new values, and the transformation based on the company’s key strengths: people, agility, and a spirit of partnership.

Jorge Solis says: “We are a different company now than we were three years ago, and we will again be different two years from now – after we have completed our strategic transformation. In the coming years, our operations will be extensively reshaped as the installation of immense capacity is completed.”

Business development will continue in this spirit of partnership, he affirms. Over the past years, the company has been building supplier partnerships and building an ecosystem by acquiring companies, in order to become a full system supplier with in-depth expertise in the full transmission/ propulsion eco-system.

Furthermore, the company continues to actively seek, and form, partnerships with OEMs in the form of mutually beneficial vertical integration. While enabling the customer to tap into its deep and broad expertise, which can be further developed with shared resources, the company largely expands its reach.

“We partner with OEMs and suppliers, both in terms of knowledge, and in terms of investment combinations to advance innovation. We are actively seeking collaboration with OEMs for commercial partnerships, and building on collaboration & involvement of our stakeholders – looking for the best solutions together, on our path towards a sustainable future.”

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