BMW Is Using It on the i8 Hybrid Electric, GKN Says
GKN is talking up the industry’s first two-speed eAxle for electric drive vehicles. The product has entered production on the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid electric sports car, the supplier says.
“We are developing the systems that are helping bring a new generation of electric drive vehicles to life,” GKN Automotive CEO Andrew Reynolds-Smith said in a release.
“Our expertise in driveline efficiency, torque vectoring and electric drive systems is enabling automakers to connect drivers to the road in new ways,” he said.
Two-Speed Gearing Enables Smaller Motors
“Two-speed eAxles will help manufacturers enhance hybrid and electric drivetrains and support the trend to downsize eMotors to reduce weight and cost,” said Theodor Gassmann, GKN Driveline e-Drive systems VP. “With the technology proven in a high-performance vehicle with high levels of refinement, significant savings in CO2 are possible.”
The additional gearing is said to improve acceleration and pure electric range, benefiting driving dynamics while helping reduce emissions. “GKN’s two-speed eAxle also enables the motor and all its associated systems to be downsized, reducing mass and further increasing efficiency,” the company says, as automakers can offer “axle-split hybrids,” with primary power to either the front or rear wheels, and the other axle driven by an eAxle module.
‘Efficiency, Traction, Dynamics and Packaging’
“The technology responds intelligently to deliver an instant high-torque all-wheel drive experience, a useful pure electric range or a refined, efficient parallel hybrid mode,” GKN says. “No other hybrid architecture offers such a strong combination of efficiency, traction, dynamics and packaging.”
To reduce size and weight, GKN places the shift mechanism on the input shaft instead of the intermediate shaft in the middle of the transmission. Precision software allows smooth transitions.
“Gear shifts are completely transparent to the driver,” Gassmann said. “Going forward, pairing electric powertrains with multi-speed transmissions is enabling GKN to supply downsized eDrive modules for future hybrid and electric vehicles. The technology also enables more radical future eMotor downsizing strategies.”
GKN says that its technologies help drive 50% of the world’s vehicles, and that it’s has invested more than £50 million ($78 million U.S. at current rates) in designs for hybrid and electric vehicles.
GKN Driveline operates in 23 countries at 57 locations employing approximately 22,000 people.
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Source: GKN Automotive with Fleets & Fuels follow-up