The upcoming range of certain family vehicles across Europe will benefit from a new electric all-wheel drive platform. Developed by GKN Driveline, a major automotive component firm in the UK, this new platform will be conceived using the electric axle drive (eAxle) technology. The eAxle is an evolution of systems developed for hybrid supercars that use electric all-wheel drive to boost performance and efficiency.
GKN says it has secured orders for a major global platform and production is now underway at the company’s eDrive production facility in Bruneck, Italy. The first application will be seen in BMW’s 2 Series Active Tourer PHEV.
This new electric axle drive has been optimised 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 2,000Nm and 70kW of additional torque and power – enough for a vehicle’s pure electric mode to achieve speeds of up to 125kmph and for an all-wheel-drive mode that accelerates noticeably faster than conventional mechanical all-wheel drive systems.
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 minimises rotating losses at higher vehicle speeds when disengaged. The technology is based on the driveline found in the BMW i8 hybrid sports car.