A BMW i8 equipped with GKN’s two-speed eAxle being tested at GKN Driveline’s Wintertest proving ground in Arjeplog, Sweden.
GKN has demonstrated a range of new hybrid all-wheel drive (AWD), AWD Disconnect and torque vectoring technologies that will make future cars more intelligent, efficient and enjoyable to drive.
The company has reported that representatives from a range of automakers have test-driven a range of innovative drivetrain concepts at the driveline expert’s Wintertest proving ground in Arjeplog, Sweden. Among the vehicles tested and demonstrated were the Range Rover Evoque with standard and Active Drivelines, the BMW i8 with GKN’s two-speed eAxle, the Jeep Renegade with GKN’s AWD Disconnect system for compact SUVs, and the BMW X6 with GKN’s electronic torque vectoring system. A number of development vehicles used in research programmes for automakers were also demonstrated.
Demand for AWD in the smaller cars of the B- and C-segments is growing strongly, particularly in markets such as China where the bestselling top-of-the-range models are often AWD. With a new generation of more fuel-efficient AWD systems now in production, drivers are enjoying the extra grip, stability and performance.
GKN pioneered the introduction of torque vectoring technology and AWD Disconnect systems and has invested in the development of hybrid AWD technologies. AWD Disconnect systems respond to driver inputs and road conditions to seamlessly switch between AWD and two-wheel drive modes, actively disconnecting components such as the propshaft and rear axle to reduce friction losses and improve fuel consumption.
GKN says it is the only Tier 1 supplier that can produce a complete AWD system in-house, as well as the electronics and software engineering. The company is now working with a number of vehicle manufacturers on AWD hybrids that use GKN’s innovative eAxle technology. Porsche recently awarded GKN Technology Partner Status for its successful completion of the work on the 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid supercar.
At Arjeplog, representatives from automakers experienced the latest applications for GKN driveline technologies, as well as a number of prototype systems. The low-friction ice test tracks produce on-the-limit conditions, making it easier for test-drivers to access the AWD system’s full performance.
Feedback from test-drives of GKN’s eAxle systems were overwhelmingly positive. A plug-in hybrid with a GKN eAxle can improve fuel economy by 30-50 percent at the same time as boosting performance. GKN has already supported a number of ground breaking and commercially successful eAWD programmes, including the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Porsche 918 Spyder and BMW i8.
GKN Driveline’s vice-president of Product Technology, eDrive systems, Theo Gassmann, said: “By adding AWD, hybrids become an even more appealing proposition to drivers. Automakers see GKN’s eAxles as a way of hybridizing FWD platforms in a way that adds more value for customers. On RWD platforms, they can enable engineers to achieve remarkable things with the power distribution and dynamics.”