TOKYO – Through a design innovation, the Aisin Group finds a way to hybridize its automatic transmission lineup with minimal capital investment.

The second-largest member of the Toyota supplier group has designed a 1-motor hybrid system to fit where the torque converter currently sits in the transmission assembly. The unit initially will be adopted in front-wheel-drive cars fitted with 8-speed automatics.

Aisin indicates it will begin delivering the system later this year to a European OEM it declines to identify.

Aisin, through Aisin AW, currently supplies 8-speed transmissions to leading European automakers including BMW, BMW subsidiary Mini, Opel, Peugeot, Volkswagen and Volvo Cars. In Asia, its main OEM customer is Toyota.

Naomi Fujie, Aisin Seiki executive vice president, tells WardsAuto in an interview the new hybrid module gradually will replace the 8-speed gearboxes the company produces and, by 2025, account for an estimated 10% of transmission sales, counting everything except manual units, which are expected to grow to nearly 15 million.

In 2017, the group (mainly Aisin AW) sold 9.8 million automatic and hybrid transmissions including CVTs.

“We would like to use our existing manufacturing sites to enhance our EV and hybrid drivetrains,” Fujie says.

Aisin AW produces 8- and 10-speed automatic and hybrid transmissions at its Okazaki-East plant in Anjo, Aichi prefecture. From 2019, it will increase capacity with the opening of a new 8-speed transmission plant in Mizunami, Gifu prefecture. Initial annual capacity is 400,000 units.

Aisin does not provide details about planned 1-motor-hybrid production volumes. However, estimating from a slide presented last month at the supplier’s fiscal 2017 financial results meeting, it appears to have set a target of 300,000 units in 2020 and 1.4 million in 2025, when combined production of EV and hybrid transmissions (mild and strong/1- and 2-motor types) will grow to 20% of total production.

The 2-motor share for cars such as the Toyota Prius is expected to grow to 3.7 million from an estimated 450,000 in 2017.