GKN has developed new electric
"torque-vectoring" axle technology that will make next generation
hybrid vehicles more dynamic. The technology will help hybrids compete
successfully against conventional powertrains on performance, not just
GKN believes the technology
has the potential to become a standard element in hybrid drivetrains, broadening
their appeal and accelerating their adoption, and could make hybrid all-wheel
drive the set-up of choice for most drivers by 2025.
The new eAxle system
integrates GKN’s Twinster dual-clutch drive module, using it to seamlessly
distribute more torque to an individual wheel to help the vehicle turn faster,
greatly enhancing cornering response – a process called “torque vectoring”.
GKN Driveline Senior Vice
President of Programme Management and Strategy, Jim Voeffray, said: “GKN’s
torque-vectoring eAxle system is a big step forward in terms of the
driveability of hybrids: higher performance cars that are better to drive and
more efficient. GKN has been building the momentum towards electric torque
vectoring for some time, establishing the core eAxle and torque vectoring
technologies in production and proving our expertise in driveline systems
integration on a series of high-profile programmes.”
The technology has a number of
application opportunities, from automakers that want to produce hybrids with
great off-road performance, to performance-focused cars that require greater
levels of on-road traction and cornering capability.
By 2025, GKN forecasts that
almost half of all vehicles will have some level of electrification, with a
greater proportion of the power delivered by electric motors. Currently
conventional hybrids derive just 30pc of their energy from a battery; GKN
expects that in future vehicles small, powerful, torque-vectoring electric
axles could help deliver 60-70pc of the power.
Automakers are already using
GKN eAxles to build more driver-focused plug-in hybrids such as the Porsche 918
Spyder and BMW i8 that blend efficiency with all-wheel drive performance. GKN’s
new torque vectoring eAxle module comprises a 60kW, 240Nm GKN EVO electric
motor which drives an electric axle with a transmission ratio of 1:10. A
dual-clutch Twinster system then vectors the resulting 2,400Nm of torque
between the rear wheels.
The company will demonstrate
the torque-vectoring eAxle system in action in early 2016 at its proving
grounds in Northern Sweden. The company has identified potential applications
for the driveline concept with customers and it believes could be programmed
and integrated into a vehicle platform for production within the next three
Peter Moelgg, GKN Automotive’s
President of Engineering, added: “GKN’s research and development is focused on
developing technologies that can achieve this crucial tipping point for
electric drives in mass production. More powerful, dynamic hybrid electric
technology from GKN will help put batteries in the driving seat and create new
dynamic experiences for customers. The success of our eAxle systems in sports
cars for Porsche and BMW demonstrated how the right kind of hybridisation
creates new value propositions for the driver. We are now preparing
mass-production versions of the technology that can also deliver torque
GKN has a history of
developing innovations that make vehicles more responsive, controllable and
efficient. The company has evolved in the last five years from being the
world’s largest supplier of limited slip differentials, constant velocity
joints and lightweight driveshafts into a leader in intelligent hybrid and
all-wheel drive systems. It worked closely with Porsche and BMW on the launch
of the companies’ flagship plug-in hybrid programmes: the Porsche 918 Spyder and
the BMW i8.
The company’s stand at the
66th IAA Frankfurt Motor Show revealed a series of other new technologies that
will meet the growing demand for hybrids with all-wheel drive. GKN also displayed a compact eAxle system
developed for Volvo’s new global architecture alongside the torque vectoring
system used in the all-new Ford Focus RS.
Moelgg concluded: “GKN’s
future eAxles will enable more and more vehicles to combine plug-in hybrid
efficiency with unmatchable all-wheel drive dynamics. The development and
introduction of this critical technology will support widespread adoption of
plug-in hybrids. GKN will accelerate the downsizing of eAxles and make it
simpler to integrate electric torque vectoring into vehicle platforms.”
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