The First 50-Year History

1. Foreword

Primary purpose of this publication is to introduce the current research and development activity of the 50-year old  AUTÓKUT Corporation. However, at the round anniversary we feel our obligation to provide a brief review on our past events and results, which are significant even from respect of the Hungarian automobilism's history.
The prevailing state and economic policy decisively determined the activity and the possibilities of this state-established and even nowadays mainly state-owned development company. The institution might owe its survival to the fact, it could always accommodate to the frequently very strict conditions and the ambitious expert team could fill the given frames with high-level creative technical work.
In 1948 the outlines of the soviet-model political and economical settlement were evolved in Hungary. The severely damaged bases of the domestic automotive industry, i.e. the MÁVAG and the MVG (RÁBA), were taken-over to state ownership, then shortly after this the Ikarus Bodywork and Vehicle Factory, as well as the Csepel Automobile Factory were founded.
The cold-war preparations accelerated the production run-up of the automotive industry. In order to assure the manufacturing documentation, the governing organ of this industry, the Heavy Industrial Center (NIK) established two organizations. For performing independent planning and documentation tasks in October 1948 the NIK Central Automotive Design Office was established under leadership of Dezső Winkler, the designer of the legendary "Botond" military off-road vehicle.
The ace engineers of the factories MÁVAG, WM, MVG (RÁBA) and design center HTI formed the backbone of the expert team.
In November of the same year the NIK-Steyr Office was also established for the task to take over the license of the D-380 type truck purchased from Steyr.
One of the outstanding personalities of the office was Antal Körtvélyesi. In February of 1950 the administration merging the two offices established the Vehicle Development Institute (JÁFI). The design department moved to the office building in Béla Bartók street No. 104, while the subsequently established testing and manufacturing departments settled in the Csóka street facilities.

1.1 Working Conditions during the Past 50 Years

Together with change of the prevailing state and economic policy our finance conditions, professional activity and our status occupied in the industry have also be changed. On basis of these changes three periods of our activity may be separated:

1.11 Period of Central Plan Ordinance: 1948-1968

In this period the institution worked as a budgetary organ under control and supervision of the government body. Our tasks were determined centrally and the conditions for these were assigned during the "plan bargain".

1.12 Period of Relative Company Independence: 1968-1990

During this we assured our sales turnover by contracted works and disposed of this according to the central economic regulations.
During this period the name change took place in 1970. The new name became RESEARCH INSTITUTE of the AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY (AUTÓKUT). The new economic conditions favored the development. The testing capacity scenically increased, our activity widened.
At this time the new engine testing area, the laboratory for vibration analisys and structure endurance, as well as the new tribology laboratories were established.
Our design and management sections moved also to the new office building on the Csóka street.

1.13 Period of Operation under Market Economic Conditions, from 1990

Downfall of the COMECON treed the Hungarian automotive industry. AUTÓKUT also lost the major part of its domestic and eastern markets, which could compensate partly only by orders from other relations. Quick accommodation to the new conditions was vital.
The vehicle manufacturers, first of all the IKARUS and the Csepel Automobile Factory, took certain activities and departments over, chiefly those of vehicle development. We liquidated our idle capacities.
In 1994 we altered to share company, while certain departments (e.g., AUTÓTRIB performing tribological activity) turned into independent limited liability companies. By the implemented dispositions AUTÓKUT's activity has stabilized under the new conditions.
The present organization of AUTÓKUT performs the below activity:
Instead of the activity enforced by the initial and typically autarchic state economic policy we rather wanted to align ourselves with the requirements of the present globlising automotive industry. After the Transition we retained and developed only the specialties where we can provide services meeting the new requirements. We detail these in this publication following the historical review.

2. Professional Activity of AUTÓKUT

2.1 Development of Military Vehicles

In the first two decades following the foundation the production of the military purpose vehicles formed a significant part of our activity due to the cold-war conditions in those days. From these owing to the high technical level the following attracted attention:
Planning, prototyping and test of the Csepel - 130 type squadron carrier and prime mover were implemented in a very short time in 1950.
Just after producing the type 130, development of another 6x6 wheel-arrangement military vehicle has started under type number Csepel 300. The cross-country truck was designed on basis of the Csepel 350 truck family and again using the Csepel B-431 type gasoline engine. The load capacity was 2500 kg off-road and 4000 kg on-road. The production has already been started in 1952 and finished in 1954.  Totally 750 pieces were produced. Owing to the favorable performance, it became the preferred cross-country prime mover both of the army and the transportation companies, as well as the agriculture.
In the same period we developed the type 800 crawler, which was designed for transporting 2000 kg pay-load and 8000 kg trail using 6-cylinder Csepel D-613 type diesel engine. The transmission is furnished with 5 forward and 1 reverse gears. The track drive is assured by a sprocket wheel drive located rear in the center and the main drives on the both sides. The steering is assured by axle shafts through clutches in the wheel drive. The cab is an enclosed two-seat driver's cab. The bodywork is of open construction.
In the beginning of the nineteen sixties we played determing role in development of a newer military vehicle. In cooperation with the experts of the Csepel Automotive Factory and the HTI (Military Technical Institute) we developed an armored reconnaissance amphibian truck, using partly the assemblies of the Csepel vehicle family. The bodywork, the transfer box and the independent front suspension were new constructions. The RÁBA factory performed the production.
After a few year stand in the second half of the sixties on a newer military assignment we prepared one of our best technical creation, the Csepel 566 type, three-axle 5 ton capacity all-wheel-driven cross-country truck.
The main technical data of the vehicle meeting the up-to-date military requirements are as follows:
The Csepel Automobile Factory in the seventies produced approximately 2000(!) vehicles in series.

2.2 Development of  Agricultural Tractors and Earthmoving Machines

During the fifties we got several significant commissions for developing agricultural machines and dump trucks. Following the nationalization of the DT-413 type crawler tractor, development of the M18 and M25 type agricultural tractors was finished.
On basis of this latter type the popular U-28 type agricultural tractor was developed and produced by the Red Star Tractor Factory until termination of tractor production on central regulation. Following the tractor program we designed the 10 m3 capacity dump truck. The RÁBA produced the first model under type number 106. After producing several hundred pieces, the Gödöllő Machine Factory took over this profile, where the modernized G-116 type was produced in series.

2.3 Development of Civil Purpose Commercial Vehicles

During our 50-year operation we developed a number of civil purpose commercial vehicles (trucks, buses and coaches, special vehicles).
From these the first and most significant work was the creation of the chassis series type 500.  Based on different versions of this, the Csepel Automobile Factory and the Ikarus produced such successful models, like the D-700 truck, the N-510 semi trailer tractor, as well as the Ikarus 60 urban bus and Ikarus 601 long-distance coach.
From the beginning of the seventies, development of the civil purpose commercial vehicles was especially emphasized within our activity.
First of all the new capacities established to meet the new development requirements of the Ikarus played significant role in creation of several new Ikarus types. Such was the development of the Ikarus 200, 300 and 400 bus family and the participation in designing a few new versions.
In the eighties on commission of the Csepel Automobile Factory we developed the type 800 bus chassis family, which later become a successful product of the factory.
The result of the same period was the design of a new airport bus, the so-called PALT-bus, embodying new ideas
In spite of its technical solution's success on several domestic and foreign exhibitions, the series production did not start. From the second half of the seventies we were assigned on developing several special vehicles, bodies and trailers. Owing to its significance and high technical level, the CCO-110 type, so-called oil drilling vehicle developed in cooperation with the Gamma Works emerged from among these.
The equipment mounted to 3-axle all-wheel-drive RÁBA chassis served for testing of the crude-oil and natural gas researches. 5 samples were produced by AUTÓKUT.

2.4 Development of Main Components

From the foundation to date, the work related to designing, testing and qualifying main and subcomponents of the commercial vehicles played significant role in our activity.

2.4.1 Engine Development

The works related to the diesel engine development cover the whole period and due to the outstanding importance these will be reviewed in a separate section.

2.4.2 Axle Development

The need for partly creating a new vehicle type partly modernizing a given type made the development of the new units reasonable. An outstanding technical creation in the second half of the fifties was development of the main components for the Ikarus 555 type, 16 ton GVM long-distance bus.
Within this work the type 555 independent front suspension, the 170 HP Csepel 813 type 8-cylinder boxer diesel engine, the Tele-Mekan 6-speed semi-automatic friction-clutch transmission and a De Dion type 010 type rear axle. The engine, the transmission and the differential of the axle were integrated in one block.
During the development a number of new design solutions exceeding the current level were used. Though the laboratory and vehicle tests terminated with success the series production of the 555 type bus and its main units did not start due to the change in the production policy.  Many results of this development were utilized in later realized products.
An example of this is the 012 type 10 ton load capacity rear axle, developed as rigid version of the above mentioned type 010 De Dion system axle. Elements similar to the type 010 drive train (drive gear and pinion, wheel hub pseudo-planetary gear) were located in a stamped, welded plate axle body.
From the year 1959 the Drive Gear Factory, Győr, and its legal successor (RÁBA) produced the axle in series for more than ten years to full satisfaction of the users. From the end of the sixties it application was replaced by the type 018 rear axle developed for the COMECON market.  During development of the type 018 design, due to the extremely wide market objectives, the requirements of many application fields within the 10 ton axle load category had to be considered, which was successful owing to the excellent cooperation of AUTÓKUT and RÁBA factory. The design of the type 018 is very similar to that of the type 012 with a significant difference, that instead of the pseudo-planetary gear a real one was used in the wheel hub. Owing to this a very flexible design was developed considering the input torque, the total ratio and the build-in possibilities.
With several billion investments RÁBA established one of Europe's most modern rear axle factory for the production. The type 018 rear axle brought outstanding  trade success and established the recent state-of-the-art axle production for RÁBA. One of our most successful axles is the type 005 front axle developed at the end of the fifties.
The axle body design provided possibility both for the air and the leaf spring suspension, as well as for application as axle "C" on the articulated buses. The different versions of this served successfully the Hungarian automotive industry for 15 years.
The production had to be reduced, then terminated due to the relevant COMECON specialization agreement.

2.4.3 Transmission Development

In field of the transmissions AUTÓKUT took determining role in product development of the Hungarian automotive industry. In this field we always adapted our tasks to the current engine and vehicle development objectives. The modification in any of these entails the change of the transmission parameters, thus such modifications frequently prevented even the application of the developed type.  First we developed the type 510, 5-speed manual transmission to the chassis 500. Due to certain design inefficiencies and the implemented engine development we replaced its application by the higher torque capacity AS-65 type.

Due to certain design inefficiencies and the implemented engine development we replaced its application by the higher torque capacity AS-65 type. The developed AS-75 type was produced for several years both for the domestic buses and the trucks.
After purchasing the MAN engine license the need for an 800-1100 Nm torque capability transmission satisfying the engine parameters came into prominence again. The prototypes of the 4, 5 and 6-speed transmissions designed according to the requirements were prepared.
In spite of the successful test results the series production failed due to purchasing a ZF license. The development results were utilized later by our cooperation at the versions designed on base of the ZF license. In the beginning of the fifties for Csepel 613 type 125 HP engines we developed the HY 400 type hydro-mechanical transmission furnished with 3-speed hydro-mechanic torque converter and 2-speed planetary gear mechanical section.  In the middle of the sixties for the JAFI 619 type engines we designed the Hidro-Mekan II type automatic transmission with Trilok system, two-stage torque converter and 2-speed countershaft type friction clutch mechanical section. In the beginning of the eighties the Csepel Automobile Factory assigned our Institute to develop the hydro-mechanical automatic transmission.  On this base we developed the transmission version equipped with 3HM-1200 type Trilok torque converter and 3-speed planetary gear mechanical section tailored to the RÁBA-MAN D2156 type engines.
Though the test results at this version were also satisfactory, the production failed due to the COMECON specialization, similarly to above, and lack of the investment's financial conditions.

2.4.4 Development of Hydraulic Power Steering Systems

During the development started in 1955, first the acme-thread crank version was born, which in a short time was replaced by the 069 type recirculating ball steering system.
In the seventies and the eighties the types 059 and 089 were born, which had rack and pinion mechanism and U-joint steering wheel connection. At each version the control was revolving-plunger type for which we secured a patent, too.
The production was started in the Machine Tool Factory, Győr, with the type 032, then for the production of the type 069 already the Csepel Automobile Factory established a modern production system. Nearly over 20 years each model of the domestic automobile production was equipped with this confessedly excellent type, which also had significant export.

2.5 Development of Components

Out of the development of the vehicles and their main components  we exerted significant activity in field of the components, too. The research and test activity performed on domestic application of the air spring suspension had outstanding significance.
Beyond that we implemented successful improvements on development and industrial application of different brake systems, filters, cooling systems, silencers, etc. 
Belonging to these is the lately developed and by us produced anti-jack-knifing equipment, which will also be detailed later. Our laboratories perform ed applied research activities, too. Especially fruitful of these were our efforts on the vehicle noise reduction, the passive safety, the engine supercharging, the peak temperature measurement with radioactive krypton-technic, as well as the wear and endurance tests, using radioactive isotop technology. This latter activity is presently performed by the AUTÓTRIB Ltd., changed into independent enterprise meanwhile. In the first two decades following the foundation we also implemented technological character researches, first off all on the automotive application of the ductile cast-iron, on production of the light-metal piston and the engine bimetal bearings, as well as on application of the induction hardening.

2.6 Development of Test Equipment and Test-Benches

From the time of the establishment we produced a part of our laboratory equipment by own development. Belonging to these are the different test-benches, the analyzer car and the computerized data acquisition system. On basis of the experiences obtained and the knowledge on designing and testing the vehicle components, the activity for producing different purpose test-benches and special equipment on external order came into existence. Within this frame, between 1980 and 1995 we produced such equipment with an amount of sever million US$ for domestic, but mainly for the former Soviet customers.
The major part of this equipment was test-bench for final acceptance at significant manufacturers.
A few examples are shown on the next pictures. This activity was terminated due to insolvency of the Soviet and later of the Russian  market.

2.7 Other Activities

The review of our activity would not be complete without mentioning also our other non-research and non-development activities exerted for shake of the automotive industry.
From these the followings can be emphasized: