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GKN Automotive launches new strategy to make electric propulsion more affordable

GKN Automotive launched the next phase in its electrification strategy. The leading supplier of all-wheel drive and electric driveline technology and systems is standardizing a range of intelligent highly integrated “3-in-1” P4 electric drive systems for pure electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, in a move to decrease cost and increase efficiency.

The 3-in-1 systems integrate an electric motor and inverter with the single-speed transmission module that scales up the torque. The inverter retains its own separate housing for maximum serviceability. The company’s Automotive SPICE Level 2- and 3-certified software engineering processes enable it to manage the system’s complete integration.

GKN Automotive’s intelligent standardization strategy enables three families of electric drive to cover all mass-market torque requirements. The systems distil the company’s substantial experience in industrializing electric axle and driveline systems, and harnesses data and system integration knowledge accumulated from 17 years of eDrive development and production of more than one million eDrive units.

  • The Family 2 eDrive system is already production-proven with a number of premium automotive brands. It provides peak torque of 1,800 – 2,700 N·m and is suitable for A-, B- and C-segment applications.

  • The Family 3 eDrive system covers C- and D-segment applications with peak axle torque of 2,700 – 4,100 N·m.

  • The Family 4 eDrive system provides 4,100 – 5,800 N·m for D-segment and large vehicle applications. Intelligent standardization of the company’s own electric motor and inverter modules will further reduce system costs.

The P4 electric drive families will use just three standardized electrical machines and two standardized inverters. Standardizing the inverters prevents repeated tooling and development costs. GKN will provide different classes of current and power using standardized IGBT modules and will provide the control boards using standard modules.

The family of three standardized e-machines cover power and torque outputs ranging from 90 kW and 1900 N·m up to 210 kW and 5450 N·m. Standardizing their diameters lowers tooling costs and engineering effort, and improves assembly costs and quality. Engineers are still able to fine-tune the torque output by varying the length of the stators and rotors and by changing the reduction transmission module’s gear set.

Industry forecasts indicate that by 2026, one in every 10 vehicles sold worldwide will be a battery-electric vehicle. The high efficiency of P4 electric axle drive architectures will make them central to most pure electric and plug-in hybrid strategies. To provide the best balance of cost and performance, single-speed systems are expected to account for 94% of P4 eDrive volumes.

P4 electric drive architectures connect the motor directly to the vehicle’s axle, making it more efficient and cost-effective than P2 and P3 systems that hybridize the main transmission. P4 systems send torque directly to the wheels and recover energy directly from the wheel when braking. P4 electric drive systems integrate the inverter and electric motor into a compact transmission module that applies torque to the axle.

P4-electric

P4 electric drive systems. Instead of regenerating via the vehicle’s main transmission (P2 hybridization) with the attendant efficiency losses, P4 eDrives send the torque straight to the wheels and regenerate energy directly from the road when braking. The system connects the inverter and electric motor to the axle, usually the rear axle, via a compact transmission module. Source: GKN


GKN Automotive has become one of the industry’s top tier one suppliers of P4 electric drive systems. The company was the first to market with eAxle technology in 2002, and, in 2019, was the first to produce one million units. It has served as a tier one system integrator on programs for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Jaguar Land Rover, BMW Group, Volvo Cars, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Geely.

GKN Automotive is the world’s leading supplier of P4 electric drive systems. This next phase of our electrification strategy will produce the highly integrated, modular, scalable architectures required for high volume vehicle applications. Standardizing these systems will make electrification more affordable and will enable OEMs to offer consumers highly optimized e-mobility at the right price.

—Hannes Prenn, COO of GKN Automotive ePowertrain

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