Rising global demand for vehicles with hybrid electric all-wheel drive (eAWD) has helped GKN Driveline’s electric axle (eAxle) technology achieve a landmark production figure. More than 300,000 units of the industry’s most successful eAxle range have now come off the production lines at GKN’s eDrive centres of excellence in Italy and Japan.
GKN has pioneered the introduction of eAxle technology since 2002, acquiring systems integration and production experience to transfer the technology from niche vehicles to high-volume mass-market applications.
Phil Swash, GKN Driveline Chief Executive, said: “GKN’s early adoption of eAxle technology is helping bring the future of electric mobility into vehicles right now and is why the company is the industry’s leading supplier of eAWD systems. With more than 300,000 GKN eAxles on the road, our stable manufacturing processes and exacting quality standards are making eAWD an attractive option for automakers and consumers.
“Plug-in hybrids with eAWD are now one of the industry’s fastest growing market segments and we have seen a significant acceleration in production volumes at our global sites in the past two years in response. We believe that approximately 40% of new vehicles will have some element of electrification within the next 10 years and we are developing the next generation of technologies to ensure we maintain our leading position, as well as adding production capacity across the globe.”
High-precision manufacturing and efficient assembly processes at GKN Driveline’s eDrive production facilities in Bruneck, Italy and Tochigi, Japan have helped make the latest GKN systems suitable for a range of vehicle segments, from premium SUVs to high-end sports cars.
Vehicles that feature GKN eDrive technology include the Volvo XC90 and S90, Mitsubishi Outlander, BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, BMW i8 and Porsche 918 Spyder. Automakers typically use GKN eAxles on the rear axle of front wheel drive platforms to offer an efficient, dynamic and affordable hybrid eAWD model.
Peter Moelgg, GKN Automotive President of Engineering, said: “GKN’s eAxle technology has passed a key production milestone at a time when demand for both all-wheel drive and plug-in hybrids is rising strongly.
“With 300,000 units now delivered, GKN’s eAxle is the clear leader in terms of market acceptance, with proven technologies and production maturity. As the industry’s driveline efficiency expert, we focused on preparing eAxles for mass production from the outset because the technology offers the most real-world efficiency and the best value for consumers in terms of performance and system cost.”
GKN is focused on developing the next generation of electric drive technologies, including higher performance systems with more differentiating capabilities integrated and greater functionality, and simpler systems designed to drive mass market acceptance of hybrids.
In March 2016, GKN announced the development of its latest generation of eAxle, which transfers technology developed for hybrid super sports cars into mass-market vehicle platforms.