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AAM develops new axle technology; lighter, more efficient for up to 1.5% better fuel economy

American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) has developed completely new, significantly improved axle technology. QUANTUM driveline technology is scalable across a wide range of vehicle segments and provides substantial advantages regardless of vehicle size: reduced mass, increased power density, improved noise vibration and harshness (NVH) and fuel efficiency gains in a more compact system package. The combined additional efficiency and weight reduction can deliver 1% to 1.5% improved vehicle fuel economy, AAM said.

QUANTUM offers a 20% increase in power density along with a minimum 30% mass reduction at the same torque capacity. For a heavy-duty pickup, QUANTUM provides more than 100 lbs. of vehicle weight savings, said Phil Guys, AAM vice president and chief technology officer. “It is significantly more efficient without any reduction in performance.

QUANTUM’s new design uses traditional axle components in new ways. Bearings are arranged more efficiently and gears are set in optimal positions. AAM’s engineers utilized system innovation to eliminate weight by combining functions of many components and developing proprietary lubricants that would increase system efficiency and durability.

In a traditional axle, shims are used to ensure an axle’s hypoid gears are installed precisely for optimum durability and NVH. Because of QUANTUM’s smart design, engineers were able to eliminate the need for shims while still providing up to a 5 dB improvement in NVH performance.

QUANTUM’s innovative gear and bearing design coupled with optimized housing allowed AAM to significantly reduce the packaging space. This means our customers gain valuable space for other vehicle content that is important to their customers such as a lower load floor or even a larger fuel tank.

—Phil Guys

QUANTUM rear axle unit. Click to enlarge.

Scalable across vehicle segments, QUANTUM can be adapted for use on virtually any size truck or passenger vehicle. AAM initially designed a QUANTUM lightweight beam axle for rear-wheel drive (RWD) vehicles such as pickup trucks but has expanded QUANTUM technology to include RWD and all-wheel drive (AWD) passenger vehicles, crossovers and SUVs.

Beam Axles. QUANTUM beam axles are scalable and can be used on heavy-, medium- or light-duty RWD based pickups. This lightweight axle results in increased vehicle payload capacity. It is up to 35% lighter and up to 30% more efficient when compared to a traditional axle.

AWD and RWD Modules. For customers looking for systems on other vehicle segments, AAM developed QUANTUM RWD and AWD modules. With typical applications including passenger cars, crossovers and SUVs, QUANTUM RWD and AWD modules can be designed and built for multiple configurations and sizes.

These lightweight and efficient modules are available in open, mechanical limited slip, electronic limited slip and torque vectoring configurations and can be equipped with AAM’s first-to-market EcoTrac Disconnecting AWD technology. QUANTUM RWD and AWD systems are up to 25% lighter and up to 30% more efficient compared to a traditional axle for these segments of vehicles. QUANTUM AWD and RWD modules also have a reduced packaging size allowing OEMs space flexibility for other vehicle systems.

EcoTrac Disconnecting Modules. QUANTUM driveline technology is scalable for virtually any size vehicle and the technology can also be coupled with other AAM products to offer improvements in vehicle performance, fuel economy and passenger safety.

When installed together, QUANTUM and EcoTrac provide further fuel economy savings while also improving passenger safety. AAM’s EcoTrac AWD gives drivers the performance of an AWD vehicle with the fuel economy of a FWD vehicle by using only the front wheels when AWD is not required. EcoTrac senses when AWD is needed and automatically and seamlessly engages AWD. When road and weather conditions do not necessitate AWD, the vehicle uses only its primary drive system, the front wheels to maximize fuel efficiency. Unlike conventional AWD systems, EcoTrac disconnects at the rear drive module (RDM) and the power transfer unit (PTU), causing the driveshaft to stop spinning when the system is disconnected. Fewer spinning components means less fuel consumption and fewer emissions.

TracRite Differentials. AAM’s portfolio of TracRite differentials can be designed into the drive system to improve traction, handling, stability and performance. AAM’s full range of differentials includes open, mechanical limited slip, electronic lockers, automatic lockers and electronic limited slip technologies.


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