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Toyota teams up with Aisin AW for volume production while Nissan,
Mitsubishi Motors and Fuji Heavy Industries centralize theirs at JatcoFull-fledged use of CVT by American, European automakers and Toyota triggers expansion of CVT markets

Jan. 30, 2003

  CVT, a continuously variable transmission, is rated high for its fuel-saving advantage and structural simplicity. However, its market has been rather small because its use was limited to small displacement engine cars and because of the short supply of metal drive belts that were formerly monopolized by VDT of the Netherlands. Moreover, as a result of the recent progress in AT technology, CVT still ranks below AT in terms of overall market value including durability and costs.

  Yet, CVT is found today in more makes than before as an increasing number of carmakers, including those in Europe and the United States, are taking a new look at CVT for a number of reasons. Namely, all of Honda's vigorously selling Fit models have the CVT feature and the new combination of CVT with the torque converter has eliminated the awkward feeling often felt by the drivers switching from an AT to a CVT model, while the addition of the 6-speed semi-automatic mode makes CVT more enjoyable for drivers that prefer a truly sporty driving sensation.

  In Japan, CVT is now available on a wide range of models from minicars to 3.5-liter class cars by Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi and Fuji Heavy Industries combined. The CVT is not an optional feature on higher-grade models alone. The carmakers seem to be putting CVT in all their small-sized models including Honda's Mobilio and Mitsubishi's Colt, other than Honda's Fit. Interestingly enough, five out of the top ten passenger cars marketed in Japan in fuel efficiency, as of the end of 2002, had the CVT feature.

■Top ten in fuel efficiency among gasoline-fueled passenger cars in Japan (as of the end of 2002; minicars excluded)

  Make Model Fuel efficiency
Model Transmission Engine
1 Honda Insight 35.0 YA-ZE1 5MT 0.995
2 Toyota Prius 31.0 ZA-NHW11 CVT 1.496
3 Honda Civic Hybrid 29.5 ZA-ES9 CVT 1.339
4 Toyota Vitz 25.5 UA-SCP13 CVT 1.296
5 Honda Fit 23.0 LA-GD1 CVT 1.339
6 Daihatsu Storia 21.5 UA-M100S 5MT 0.989
6 Toyota Duet UA-M100A 5MT 0.989
6 Toyota Platz UA-SCP11 5MT 0.997
9 Nissan March 21.0 UA-AK12 5MT 1.240
10 Honda YRV 20.5 LA-M200G 5MT 0.989
10 Honda(Thailand) Fit Aria LA-GD6 CVT 1.339
Source: The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (2003.3.28)
Notes:1. Models with type designation as of December 31, 2002.
2. The top three models (Insight, Civic Hybrid, and Prius) are powered by hybrid engines.

  In Europe, MG Rover and Fiat began using CVT relatively earlier than others did. In 2001, BMW followed suit and made CVT available on the Mini while Audi began making its own CVT systems in 1999 and 2000 for the A6 and A4 respectively.

  Among the US carmakers, GM began using CVT in 2002 on Saturn while Ford is likely to start using CVT sometime between the end of 2003 and early 2004 on its volume-production models.

  The carmakers are making the required efforts to organize a full-fledged manufacturing structure in support of their CVT expansion plans. Nissan, Mitsubishi Motors and Fuji Heavy have concentrated their CVT production at Jatco, where production of a million CVTs is targeted during 2005. Toyota has its own production facilities for CVT. In addition, however, Toyota has begun CVT production at Aisin AW and production of the metal push-belts for CVT use at a joint venture company formed by Bosch and Aisin AW. Toyota plans to increase the annual production to a million units in the future. Ford plans to start its CVT production in 2003 at a US company formed in 1999 jointly with ZF. Ford plans to produce 700,000 units after five years from this point onwards.

Shown below is the summary of the CVT production and procurement structures being built by the carmakers.

■Main CVT Makers

CVT Makers Corresponding Engines Customers Annual production capacities
Jatco 1.4L (New type) Nissan 240,000 units 1,000,000units (in 2005)
2.0L Nissan
3.5L (New type) Nissan
3.0L (half-toroidal type) Nissan
1.3~2.0L (Mitsubishi-made) Mitsubishi 300,000 units
Fuji AT 1.0~1.3L (planned) (Subaru) 240,000 units (in 2005)
Fuji Heavy 0.66L~1.3L Subaru/Fiat 240,000 units
Toyota around 2.4L Toyota  
Aisin AW 1.3L Toyota 120,000 units (Planning 240,000 units)
(Planned to) 2.0L (Toyota)  
Aichi Machine 0.66L Daihatsu 120,000 units
Honda 1.3~1.7L Honda  
Audi 1.8~3.0L Audi  
Opel Hungary 2.2L GM Saturn  
ZF 1.6L BMW Mini  
1.8L MG Rover
ZF Batavia around 2.0L (Ford Europe) 700,000 units (in 2007)
3.0L (Ford)
Note: 1. Annual production capacities estimated based on press reports.
2. Car makers in parentheses under "customer" represent plans yet to be realized.

■Models recently equipped with CVT(as of April, 2003)

Make Model Year/month
of release
Transmission Suppliers
Nissan Teana Feb., 2003 3.5L     Jatco VDT
Skyline Jan., 2003 3.5L     NSK(Note 6)
Murano Nov., 2002 3.5L     VDT
Cube Oct., 2002 1.4L   VDT
Cedric/Gloria Dec., 2001 3.0L   NSK(Note 6)
Primera/Wagon Jan., 2001 2.0L VDT
Bluebird Sylphy Aug., 2000 2.0L    
Wingroad May, 1999 2.0L    
Serena Jun., 1999 2.0L  
Liberty Nov., 1998 2.0L  
Avenir Aug., 1998 2.0L  
Mitsubishi Colt Nov., 2002 1.3/1.5L     Jatco VDT
Dion May, 2002 1.8/2.0L  
Lancer Wagon Nov., 2000 1.8L  
Lancer Cedia May, 2000 1.5/1.8L  
Toyota Vitz (Yaris) Dec., 2002 1.3L     Aisin AW VDT/
Aisin/Bosch JV
Allion/Premio Dec., 2001 2.0L     in-house
Estima Hybrid Jun., 2001 2.4L    
Opa May, 2000 2.0L    
Prius Oct., 1997 1.5L     (Note 5)
Daihatsu Mira Dec., 2002 0.66L Aichi Machine BandoChemical
Move Custom Oct., 2002 0.66L
Max Oct., 2001 0.66L
Honda Mobilio Dec., 2001 1.5L     in-house VDT/in-house
Civic Hybrid Dec., 2001 1.3L    
Fit (Jazz) Jun., 2001 1.3/1.5L    
Civic/Ferio Sep., 2000 1.5/1.7L
HR-V Sep., 1998 1.6L  
Subaru Pleo Oct., 1998 0.66L   in-house VDT
Fiat Punto Dec., 1999 1.2L   Fuji Heavy VDT
Audi A4 Nov., 2000 1.8~3.0L   in-house LuK
A6 Oct., 1999 1.8~3.0L   in-house LuK
BMW Mini Jul., 2001 1.6L   ZF VDT
MG TF Feb., 2002 1.8L   ZF VDT
Rover 45 Oct., 2002 1.8L   ZF VDT
Saturn ION Nov., 2002 2.2L   Opel VDT
VUE Jan., 2002 2.2L   Opel VDT
Ford Focus-based car late 2003 around 2.0L     ZF Batavia VDT
F. Five Hundred early 2004 3.0L   ZF Batavia VDT
F. Freestyle early 2004 3.0L   ZF Batavia VDT
M. Montego early 2004 3.0L   ZF Batavia VDT
Source: Each company's press release, etc.
Note: 1. MT=Manual Transmission, AT=Automatic Transmission, CVT=Continuously Variable Transmission
2. VDT=Van Doorne's Transmissie BV of the Netherlands, wholly-owned by Bosch
3. Only CVT-combined engines are shown. For example, the Toyota Vitz with a 1.0-liter engine is omitted as CVT is not available.
4. The market launch dates are those when CVT-version models are introduced.
5. CVT on Toyota Prius is for hybrid models only and thus differs from other CVTs.
6. "NSK" under "Belts" represents a half-toroidal type rather than the belt type.

■Nissan has Jatco-made CVT on its full lineup from small- to large-size models

  Nissan has CVT on nearly all of its products from small- to large-size cars. At present, all CVTs are supplied by Jatco.

  Nissan introduced a metal push-belt type front-wheel-drive CVT (HYPER CVT) in 1997 for 2.0-liter engines. Today, with the later addition of a 6-speed semi-automatic mode (HYPER CVT-M6), CVT is used on Avenir, Liberty, Serena, Wingroad, Bluebird Sylphy, Primera and Primera Wagon.

  Nissan used to have CVT for the smaller 1.5-liter cars supplied by Fuji Heavy Industries until 2002 when it developed its own CVT for 1.4-liter engines (XTRONIC CVT-M6), which is now used on Cube. The company also developed a new CVT (XTRONIC CVT-M6) that could be used with the larger 3.5-liter engines that were thought unfit for the metal push-belt type CVT. The new CVT is now used with the Murano SUV that was introduced in the North American markets in November 2002 and in Teana, a new model that debuted in February 2003. The new CVT uses a metal push-belt made exclusively for Nissan by VDT, which is combined with a larger pulley than earlier types to apply a larger hydraulic pressure to the belt and pulley contact and thus ensure power transmission from the larger displacement engine. The two types of XTRONIC CVT developed in 2002 are being produced in a new line in Jatco's Fuji Factory in which Jatco invested 15.5 billion yen.

  In 2001, Nissan completed a rear-wheel-drive half-toroidal CVT (EXTROID CVT) for large 3.0-liter engines. This CVT is now used on Cedric/Gloria and Skyline.

  Nissan's use of CVT is limited, however, to higher-grade models, which seems to suggest that the company is yet to reduce the cost to make it available on lower-grade cars as well. This is true especially of the small-size cars. For instance, it is said that Nissan chose not to install the new 1.5-liter class CVT on March that was fully remodeled in February 2002, because of the additional costs (although this decision is likely to be short lived). Mazda is also said to have considered the use of the CVT on its Demio that was fully remodeled in August 2002 but chose not to do so because of similar reasons to Nissan.

■Mitsubishi Motors also shifts its AT/CVT operations to Jatco; Jatco plans to increase capacity to 1 million units

  In April 2003, Jatco merged Diamondmatic that used to be Mitsubishi Motors' AT/CVT division to increase its CVT production capacity to 540,000 units combining 240,000 at Jatco's Fuji Factory and 300,000 at Diamondmatic's Yagi Factory. The Yagi factory, Jatco's newest CVT plant that began operation in April 2000, has a larger room for expansion, and the company plans to turn it into its main CVT production center with the plan to increase the company's total CVT production capacity to over 1 million units by 2005.

  Mitsubishi Motors introduced cars with the CVT feature in 2000 when the company began producing INVCS III CVT at the then new Yagi factory. The CVT was installed in the Lancer Cedia and Lancer Wagon in 2000 and then in Dion after minor remodeling in 2002. The CVT is used in all of Colts that were released in November 2002.

  As part of its turn-around scheme, Mitsubishi Motors reached an agreement with Nissan and Jatco in October 2001 to separate its AT/CVT division as a new company and combine its operation under Jatco (then JATCO TransTechnology). In April 2002, Mitsubishi Motors established a new subsidiary Diamondmatic consisting of its Yagi Factory (CVT production plant located in Kyoto) and AT division of Kyoto and Mizushima Works. In July 2002, the company agreed to a stock swap between Jatco and Diamondmatic. As a result, Diamondmatic became Jatco's wholly owned company in which Mitsubishi had 18% equity. This virtually marked a business consolidation with Jatco.

  According to Mitsubishi Motors, the consolidation provided a number of merits. It released the company of the continuous burden of large investments for maintaining competitiveness in the CVT market while it offered Jatco an opportunity to fully utilize the larger scale merit and development capacity which, in turn, would benefit Mitsubishi Motors in receiving a supply of cost competitive products that met the market needs and reflected cutting-edge technologies. For Jatco, the consolidation established a very firm foundation as the core supplier for both Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors and a greater opportunity to take advantage of the greater competency to win new customers beyond the framework of business groups.

■Merger between Jatco and Diamondmatic

Company name Jatco Ltd.
Head office Fuji City, Shizuoka Pref., Japan
Capital 29,935.3 million yen (same as before consolidation)
(Nissan 81.8%, Mitsubishi Motors 18.0%, employee stock ownership plan 0.2%)
Established date June 1999 (name changed from JATCO TransTechnology in April 2002)
History of
March 2002: AT/CVT business consolidation agreed to by Nissan, Mitsubishi Motors and Jatco
April 2002: Mitsubishi Motors separated AT/CVT division to establish Diamondmatic
July 2002: Stock swap between Diamondmatic and Jatco
April 2003: Jatco and Diamondmatic merged
Scale of production Approx. 3.5 million units/year (including approx. 0.9 million increase due to merger)
No. of employees 7,200 (including 1,200 due to merger)
Contents of business Development, manufacture and sales of transmissions and automotive components

Source: Mitsubishi Motors and Jatco news release dated July 1, 2002 and Jan. 30, 2003
Note: Diamondmatic was dissolved as a result of merger with Jatco.

■Fuji Heavy Industries establishes a joint company with Jatco for CVT development and production

  In January 2003, Fuji Heavy Industries and Jatco established, on a fifty-fifty investment agreement, a joint company called Fuji AT for the development and production of CVT. The new company is located within Oizumi factory of Fuji Heavy Industries' Gunma Works. The two companies have a number of plans for Fuji AT: (1) Fuji AT will have CVT for minicars and 1.0 to 1.3-liter sub-compact cars developed by Fuji Heavy Industries and Jatco; (2) the two companies will exchange their CVT technologies for joint development of CVT; and (3) the newly developed CVT will be produced by Fuji AT at Oizumi factory and supplied to Fuji Heavy Industries and other customers by Jatco.

  The companies aim to develop the new CVT toward the end of fiscal 2004 for initial production of 10,000 units per month starting in fiscal 2005. This business is expected to start yielding profit in the fiscal 2006.

  The joint operation offers a number of merits. Fuji Heavy Industries will have a greater possibility to increase its CVT customers while Jatco will be able to add CVT for minicars and subcompact cars to its product lineup.

  In 1984, Fuji Heavy Industries became the world's first company to develop metal push-belt type CVT (ECVT) for commercial application (metal push-belts and pulleys were supplied then by VDT, Van Doorne's Transmissie BV, of the Netherlands). By the end of 2002, Fuji Heavy had produced a total of 1.85 million units of CVT. Today, the CVT (i-CVT) is used in the Pleo and is also supplied to Fiat (an option under the name of Speed Gear with Punto).

■CVT joint production company formed by Fuji Heavy Industries and Jatco

Company name Fuji AT
Head office Oizumi factory of Fuji Heavy Industries Gunma Works, Gunma Pref.
Capital 450 million yen (Fuji Heavy 50%, Jatco 50%)
Established date January 2003
First production FY2005 (new CVT to be developed by the end of FY2004)
Scale of production Initially 10,000 units per month
No. of employees initially 10 (around 200 in FY2006 when full production starts)
Contents of business Development and production of CVT for minicars and 1.0 to 1.3-liter subcompact cars

Source: Mitsubishi Motors and Jatco news release dated Jan. 15, 2003

■Toyota begins CVT production at Aisin AW and belt production at Bosch and Aisin AW joint facility

  During the minor remodeling of Vitz in December 2002, Toyota added the U/Clavia grade combining Aisin AW's newly developed CVT (Super CVT) and Toyota's 1.3-liter engine.

  Aisin AW began production of CVT for the 1.3-liter Vitz at Aisin AW Precision's Tahara factory that the company merged in June 2002, marking its first step into the CVT business. The initial production volume of 5,000 units per month will be increased to over 10,000 units in the future. Aisin AW has invested nearly 4 billion yen for building the CVT production line. The company plans to develop a special CVT for every increment of 300cc in engine displacement, based on the CVT for the 1.3-liter engine, to complete a full lineup of CVTs for the 1.0 to 2.0-liter engine range. Toyota and Daihatsu also plan to expand their CVT car lineup with procurement of CVT from Aisin AW.

  Aisin AW also began production of metal push-belts for CVT application. In July 2002, the company established a new company, CVTEC Co., Ltd., jointly with the Bosch Group on a fifty-fifty investment basis, and started production of CVT belts in March 2003. Toyota and Aisin AW used to receive supply of metal push-belts for CVT use from VDT but will gradually switch the supply source to CVTEC, which will eventually increase annual production from the initial 400,000 to over 1 million units.

  Toyota has own facility to make CVT (Super CVT) for the 2.0-liter class engines. The CVT was first installed in Opa's 2.0-liter model in 2000, followed by the Estima Hybrid and 2.0-liter grade models of Allion/Premio in 2001. Toyota's monthly capacity is estimated to be 10,000 units.

■Aisin AW and Bosch's joint production of CVT belts

Company name CVTEC Co. Ltd.
Head office Tahara-cho, Atsumi Gun, Aichi Pref.
Capital 1 billion yen (Aisin AW 50%, Bosch 40%, Bosch Automotive System 10%)
Established date July 2002
First production March 2003 (opening and line-off ceremonies)
Scale of production 400,000 units per year (increased to 1 million in the future)
No. of employees 100
Contents of business Production of belts for CVT use

Source: Bosch news release dated May 8, 2002, etc.
Notes: Products are initially supplied to Toyota's Kinuura Factory and Aisin AW's Tahara Factory.

■Daihatsu procures dry belt type CVT for minicars from Aichi Machine Industry

  Daihatsu procures CVT for minicars (A-CVT) from Aichi Machine Industry. The CVT is used in the Mira, Move Custom and Max.

  In 1998, Aichi Machine Industry first commercialized CVT, integrating Dry Hybrid Belts made by Bando Chemical Industries. The CVT is supplied for minicars. The second-generation CVT using dry composite belts, developed jointly with Bando Chemical Industries, is applicable to 1-liter class cars while reflecting weight and cost reduction efforts.

  Aichi Machine Industries also supplies CVT to Suzuki and Daewoo (for the Matiz 0.8L). Suzuki launched CVT type cars (the Wagon R in 1998 and Alto in 1999), although the company discontinued CVT versions after the minor remodeling in 2002.

■Honda has CVT on all the Fit models; starts belt production in-house and overseas in Indonesia

  All of Honda's Fit and Mobilio models have the newly developed CVT (Honda Multimatic S) that is made in-house. Launched in June 2001, the number of Fit sold in Japan was 104,000 units in 2001. The number rose to 251,000 units in 2002, marking the highest model by model number of that year.

  The increase in CVT production accompanied a 20 percent increase in the import of automotive components from EU. According to Honda, the purchase of EU-made automotive components in FY2001 rose 49.3 percent from the previous year to 1.06 billion Euro, including the imports from the EU that increased 19.1 percent to 170 million Euro. The increase in import was due mainly to the increased import of CVT belts from VDT.

  Honda used to rely entirely on VDT of the Netherlands for its need for CVT belts. Partly due to VDT's short supply, Honda is having some CVT belts manufactured in-house at Tochigi Technology Center of Honda Engineering, one of Honda's subsidiaries. The in-house production started in October 2001 with the production scale estimated to be around 5,000 units per month.

  In October 2002, Honda launched the Fit-based City in Thailand. CVT is used on the City (5-speed MT is also available). The City's local content ratio is approximately 70 percent. Honda is currently supplying suspension arms, engine parts and CVTs from Japan, but plans to shift supply sources for some of the engine parts and CVT from Japan to Indonesia.

  The production in Indonesia will take place at PT Honda Precision Parts Mfg., which was established in August 2002. It will start production of AT/CVT and engine valves in the fall of 2003 with an annual output of 250,000 units of AT and CVT combined and 550,000 units of engine valves during the fiscal 2004. Most of the products will be exported to Honda assembly plants in ASEAN and other areas.

  Other than Fit and Mobilio, CVT is also used in all of Civic Hybrid models and is available on the Civic, Civic Ferio and HR-V. The Thai-made City with the CVT feature, dubbed the Fit Aria was introduced in the Japanese market in December 2002.

■CVT production and procurement scheme in Japan

CVT production and procurement scheme in Japan

■Audi launches A6/A4 featuring CVT jointly developed with LuK

  Among European carmakers, Audi launched the A6 in October 1999 with the CVT feature called Multitronic, followed by the A4 with the same feature in November 2000. Audi's Multitronic CVT was developed jointly with LuK, a large supplier of clutches, and uses a chain rather than the VDT type metal push-belt so it can be combined with 3.0-liter class engines. LuK produces chains, pulleys and hydraulic units in its head office factory located in Buhl, Germany, and supplies them to Audi.

  In addition to the models combining Multitronic CVT and 1.8/2.0-liter serial 4-cylinder or 2.4/3.0-liter V6 gasoline engine, Audi also offers models that combine CVT with 2.5-liter TDI V6 diesel power plant. CVT available only on front-wheel-drive models at the present, although the company is said to be developing CVT for all-wheel-drive applications.

■BMW Mini and Rover 45/MG TF feature ZF-made CVT

  BMW Mini that debuted in July 2001 features optional ZF-made CVT, called Steptronic, with a 6-speed semi-automatic mode.

  The ZF-made CVT is also available on MG Rover's MG TF and Rover 45, although the CVT on MG Rover is called Stepspeed. Steptronic was originally an optional feature on the Rover MGF in 1999 when Rover was part of the BMW group. The CVT in the MG Rover was renamed Stepspeed after the sell-off of Rover by BMW.

  When CVT was first used on Rover cars, it was produced and supplied by ZF Getriebe Sint-Truiden NV (ZFST), a Belgian supplier of transmissions. ZFST was established in May 1998 after ZF purchased VCST Variable Transmission nv from the VCST (Vehicle Component Systems and Transmissions) of Belgium. VCST began supplying CVT for the Rover 114 in 1992 and for the Volvo 400, Rover 200 and other cars in later years.

■Ford begins joint production of CVT with ZF in the US in 2003

  Ford established ZF Batavia LLC in January 1999 jointly with ZF. The new company will begin CVT production in the 4th quarter of 2003 at a Ford Batavia transmission plant located in Ohio.

  ZF Batavia will produce two types of CVT. The first type is likely to be made available as an optional feature, in combination with a 2.0-liter engine, in the tall wagon based on the Focus made by Ford Europe. The other type will be combined with the 3.0-liter V6 engine for use in Ford Five Hundred, Mercury Montego and Ford Freestyle wagon to be launched in the US markets in early 2004.

  According to ZF Batavia, the company will produce 700,000 units of CVT in 2007 if the demand grows as expected.

■GM produces CVT in a Hungarian factory for use in the Saturn VUE and ION

  In 1999, GM began production of CVT, called VTi, at Sventgotthard factory that belongs to Opel Hungary Powertrain Ltd. (a subsidiary of Fiat-GM Powertrain B.V.). The VTi was introduced in 2002, in combination with 2.2-liter gasoline-fueled engines, on the new SUV called Saturn VUE and the new sedan called ION. GM does not plan to use CVT on other models for the time being as the company reportedly prefers to use CVT on Saturn cars exclusively as a special type of transmission, thereby hoping to enhance the market image of the Saturn brand.

  GM invested US$151 million in a new CVT production line at Opel Hungary. GM claims that VTi gives approximately 8 percent improvement in fuel efficiency and 45 percent reduction in the component count compared to the conventional 4AT on Saturn cars.

  The all-inclusive tie-up signed in December 1999 between GM and Fuji Heavy Industries suggested that Fuji Heavy would play the role of the "center of expertise" within the GM group regarding the 4WD and CVT technologies. Concrete plans, however, have not been announced as of today.

■CVT production and procurement scheme in US and Europe

CVT production and procurement scheme in US and Europe

Japan USA China Thailand Germany India
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