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GKN eAxle Brings Electric AWD Technology To Hybrids

One of GKN Driveline’s electric axle drive technologies — dubbed the “eAxle” — will be offered to consumers as part of a number of new C-Segment vehicles being released by various manufacturers, according to a new press release.

GKN Driveline has reportedly secured orders for a major global platform of the eAxle system — developed to bring electric all-wheel drive performance to hybrid vehicles. Production is now underway at the company’s eDrive production facility in Bruneck, Italy.

eAxle

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer plug-in hybrid (PHEV) represents the first major application of the offering through the platform, according to the press release.

GKN Driveline CEO Phil Swash commented: “GKN Driveline continues to bring the future of eMobility into the here and now. Our total focus on driveline innovation, our unmatched expertise in all-wheel drive and our 14 years of production experience in eAxles are now making eAWD viable in smaller, 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.”

The press release provides more:

The company’s new electric axle drive has been optimized for compact car applications. The lightweight single-speed design has a transmission ratio of 12.5:1, reducing the electric-motor speed in two stages. The system generates up to 2,000 Nm and 70 kW of additional torque and power — enough for a vehicle’s pure-electric mode to achieve speeds of up to 125 km/h (78 mph) and for an all-wheel-drive (AWD) mode that accelerates considerably faster than conventional mechanical AWD systems.

The entire unit weighs just 20.2 kg (44.5 lbs.) and has a length of 457 mm, a width of 229 mm and a height of 259 mm, facilitating packaging and installation in confined spaces.

When hybrid operation is not required, the e-machine can be disconnected from the driveline by an integrated disconnect device, which uses an electromechanically actuated dog clutch. This minimizes rotating losses at higher vehicle speeds when disengaged. Gear and bearing arrangements have also been optimized for efficiency, NVH and durability. Precision engineering throughout the system, including a low-backlash, high-performance transmission differential and case ensures transitions between pure-electric, hybrid and ICE modes are transparent to the driver.

The GKN Automotive President of Engineering, Peter Moelgg, stated: “GKN’s eAxle technology is passing a key milestone in its evolution at a time when the demand for all-wheel drive and plug-in hybrids is strengthening. 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.”

A two-speed eAxle was previously utilized as part of the BMW i8.

 
Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

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