Antonov Automotive Technologies BV officially is on the map.

Thanks to a licensing deal signed in late February with Honda Motor Co. Ltd., tiny — and little known — Netherlands-based Antonov got much more notice at SAE, where it was pitching its design for a low-cost, high-efficiency automatic transmission.

The Honda pact is the third big deal for Antonov, which also has granted licenses to NZWL, a transmission producer that supplies DaimlerChrysler AG, and Gajra, an Indian transmission builder that supplies Maruti Udyog Ltd., the small-car producer partially owned by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp.

Antonov also says General Motors Corp.'s Adam Opel AG subsidiary is testing a 6-speed version of the Antonov Automatic Drive with torque converter for possible use in its small Corsa model.

What's drawing the attention is the AAD's low cost and efficient design, said to work exceedingly well with small-engine vehicles. So far, no Antonov transmissions have been put into production, and the company for now is unwilling or unable to say when that might happen. Antonov says it has no plans to enter transmission manufacturing itself.

Meanwhile, British auto-tuning specialist Prodrive and Italian gearbox manufacturer Graziano Transmissioni SpA announce that they plan to jointly develop advanced automated manual transmissions.

Automated manuals combine the driver-friendliness of a standard automatic transmission with the fuel economy and manufacturing advantages of a manual.

Prodrive — well-known in the U.K. and to lovers of Subaru cars as the pre-eminent high-performance tuner behind Subaru's WRX variants — says the two companies initially will start developing a “new high-capacity automated transmission concept for low- to medium-volume applications where high levels of refinement and driveability are critical.”