As dual-clutch transmission systems with their green credentials gain market presence, torque-converter technology is fighting back. ZF Sachs (the Powertrain and Suspension Components Division of ZF), which has just produced its 20 millionth torque converter at its Schweinfurt, Germany, facility, stated that the use of special clutches with torsional dampers is providing improved fuel consumption and acceleration values.
"We are expecting that the share of modern torque converters with twin torsional damper technology, introduced to the market in 2006, will account for 30% of total production worldwide next year," said Dr. Peter Ottenbruch, Group Executive of ZF Sachs.
The torque converter lockup clutch can be closed at an earlier point in time, thanks to better torsional damping, and the more fuel-intensive period of hydrodynamic power transfer is considerably shortened. At the same time, a vehicle equipped with an automatic transmission featuring twin torsional dampers achieves better acceleration values via considerably faster shifting times.
Torque converter production started at ZF’s Schweinfurt plant in 1965, and the first 10 million units were produced over the following 34 years. But the second 10 million took only nine years.
Currently, ZF Sachs has an annual production of 2.2 million torque converters worldwide, with 1.1 million being produced at Schweinfurt. At this rate, the next 10 million milestone is not very far off, especially as the demand for torque converters with twin torsional technology is on the rise.
To meet this rising demand, ZF Sachs has invested 80 million in the construction of a new production hall at Schweinfurt. It is there that the torque converters for the company’s newly developed eight-speed automatic transmission will be produced from the end of this year.