Motorists have to brace themselves as a series of new C-Segment vehicles will provide them the option of adding plug-in electric all-wheel drive (AWD) utilizing GKN Driveline’s newest electric axle drive (eAxle) technology. The technology is an evolution of systems developed specifically for hybrid supercars using electric AWD to enhance efficiency and performance.
GKN has secured orders for a key global platform, and production is now underway at its eDrive production plant in Bruneck, Italy. The initial application is the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer PHEV.
In a statement, Phil Swash said that GKN Driveline continues bringing the future of eMobility into the here and now. He added that their total focus on driveline innovation, their unrivalled expertise in AWD and their 14 years of production experience in eAxles are now making eAWD feasible in smaller and more affordable vehicles. “From the i8 to the 2 Series Active Tourer, GKN’s work with BMW reflects our position as the development partner of choice for the coming wave of plug-in hybrids with eAWD.”
GKN’s all-new electric axle drive has been enhanced for compact car applications. The lightweight single-speed design comes with a transmission ratio of 12.5:1, decreasing the electric-motor speed in two stages.
The system cranks out up to 2,000Nm and 70kW of extra torque and power—sufficient for a vehicle’s pure-electric mode to attain speeds of up to 125km/h (78 mph) and for an AWD mode that speeds up significantly faster than traditional mechanical AWD systems.
Weighing only 20.2kg (44.5 lbs.) and with dimensions of 457 mm x 229 mm x 259 mm (LxWxH), the unit enables packaging and installation in confined spaces.
When hybrid operation is not needed, the e-machine can be disconnected from the driveline by an integrated disconnected device, which utilized an electromechanically actuated dog clutch. This reduces rotating losses at higher vehicle speeds when disengaged. Bearing and gear arrangements have also been improved for durability, NVH, and efficiency.
Precision engineering all throughout the system, comprising a low-backlash, high-performance transmission differential and case, guarantees that transitions between hybrid, pure-electric, and ICE modes are transparent to the driver.
The newest generation of GKN eAxles embodies a huge breakthrough in terms of size, cost and performance. For numerous front-wheel-drive vehicle platforms, it is now easier and more effective to electrify the rear axle than to bolt on a hybrid module to the main transmission.
According to GKN automotive engineering president Peter Moelgg, the company’s eAxle technology is passing a huge milestone in its evolution at a time when the demand for AWD and plug-in hybrids is growing. “This latest system advances the business case for electric all-wheel-drive capability in hybrids. A number of automakers are introducing our technology on their premium models and starting to transfer eAxle hybrid versions to higher-volume models.”
eAxles transmit the electric torque directly to the wheels of the vehicle, offering more immediate response and dynamic acceleration. Now, input speeds of 14,000rpm are possible and are anticipated to surpass 20,000rpm in the next few years.
GKN unveiled its first-ever eAxle applications in 2002. The company was awarded Official Porsche technology Partner status for its huge contribution to the plug-in hybrid Porsche 918 Spyder program.
It rolled out the world’s first two-speed eAxle in the plug-in hybrid BMW i8 and also provides the eAxle on the Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine PHEV program.
Hamid Moaref has always been fascinated by cars and the automotive industry. His family has a longstanding association with the industry and has been in the tire business for the past 35 years. Raised in Dubai, Hamid attended Capilano University in Vancouver where he graduated with a BBA in marketing before attending an intensive course in magazine publishing in 2005. He has been the publisher and chief editor of Tires & Parts magazine for the past ten years.
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