GKN eAxle powers London Taxi

  • GKN’s award-winning coaxial-design electric axle powers LEVC’s new range-extended electric taxi, the TX eCity
  • Compact packaging of e-motor, gearbox and differential delivers a lightweight and highly-efficient driveline
  • Integrated design maximises space
  • Bespoke development of the eAxle first seen on Volvo T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid models

Redditch, UK: GKN Driveline’s expertise in efficient, high-performance electric vehicle systems is delivering zero-emissions capability for London’s new electric taxi. A unique development of GKN’s coaxial eAxle powers the rear wheels of the LEVC (London EV Company, formerly known as London Taxi Company)’s electrified TX model.

Designed to minimise packaging and maximise performance, GKN Driveline’s coaxial eAxle sets new standards in eDrive sophistication. The eAxle was launched in its first application across Volvo’s range of T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrids, picking up an Automotive News PACE Innovation Award in 2016. In these models, GKN’s system has an ‘axle split’ secondary drive role, with a 60kW e-motor providing motive power to the rear wheels – working in conjunction with a combustion engine that drives the front wheels.

In the LEVC TX, GKN’s eAxle is always the primary drive unit, and so uses a more powerful 120kW e-motor. A small petrol engine at the front of the taxi provides range-extended power to the battery pack only, which means the taxi is always powered electrically by the eAxle. The TX’s pure-electric driving range is around 80 miles, according to official test figures, whilst the petrol generator takes the total range up to 377 miles.

As with all GKN Driveline systems, the coaxial eAxle for LEVC has been uniquely engineered to achieve the desired characteristics for the vehicle’s dynamics. The core design of the eAxle is shared with Volvo’s plug-in hybrids, but its bespoke features meet a totally different set of driving requirements. The lightweight unit weighs less than 17Kg and has a mechanical efficiency of up to 97.5%.

Phil Swash, GKN Driveline Chief Executive Office, said: “London’s black cab is recognised worldwide, and we are immensely proud that a GKN electric driveline is helping to power a new generation of taxis capable of running with zero emissions. NOx reduction is a key target of global cities and developing cleaner, more efficient taxis will play a significant role in achieving that. “This project is another showcase for our scalable eAxle technologies, which are enablers of cost-effective plug-in hybrid and range-extended electric models. LEVC is the latest vehicle manufacturer to realise the benefits of GKN’s unique technologies and its expertise as a full systems integration partner.”

Components within GKN Driveline’s coaxial eAxle designs are tightly packaged, with the reduction gearbox, open differential, driveshaft section and e-motor sharing a connected housing. This level of integration has significant benefits when it comes to packaging the eDrive unit within the new taxi’s chassis.

As the range-extender combustion engine is never providing power directly to the rear wheels, the TX does not need a propshaft, which delivers further advantages for weight and packaging. Production of the electrified LEVC TX is already underway at a brand-new facility in Ansty, near Coventry. The new taxi meets stricter Transport for London licensing requirements that come into force on 1 January 2018, which mandate a minimum 30-mile zero-emission range and maximum CO2 emissions of 50g/km for new taxis on the road*.

*New licensing requirements from 1 January 2018 apply to taxis in London, defined as Transport for London-licensed ‘Hackney carriages’. Separate requirements come into force for Private Hire Vehicles in London at later dates.

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GKN DRIVELINE HELPS MAKE INNOVATIVE STREETSCOOTER ELECTRIC VEHICLE MORE AFFORDABLE

Lohmar, Germany: GKN Driveline is helping to facilitate the introduction of emissions free parcel delivery in Germany through a partnership with StreetScooter, the electric vehicle company owned by Deutsche Post DHL Group.

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GKN Driveline is supplying its innovative electric drive technology to StreetScooter. GKN’s Family 2 eTransmission system transmits torque from the eMotor to the wheels of a new StreetScooter zero-emission pure electric van.

“This is another example of GKN supporting electric vehicle innovation with essential driveline technologies,” said CEO of GKN Driveline’s all-wheel and electric drive division, Peter Moelgg. “GKN’s electric drives turn electric power into instant torque at the wheels and the versatile Family 2 eTransmission provides outstanding performance, refinement and efficiency in a compact package that is designed to make integration quick and simple.”

GKN’s system has an output torque of up to 2000Nm in a compact package with superior noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) characteristics and efficiency. An ingenious interface concept enables the electric drive to pair easily with different electric motor designs to simplify integration and application engineering. Other applications for the system include the Fiat 500e city EV and the Citroën Berlingo Electric light commercial vehicle.

StreetScooter is a start-up formed by leading German technical university RWTH Aachen to develop more affordable electric commercial vehicles for urban operations. Following a successful trial, Deutsche Post DHL intends to deploy around 2,000 new StreetScooter vehicles in its urban delivery fleet by the end of the year as part of its ultimate objective of converting its entire delivery fleet to electric power.

A key objective of the programme was to reduce the development time and costs typically associated with commercial vehicles. GKN supported StreetScooter with effective application engineering to deliver the driveline, within the programme’s ambitious timeframe.

GKN Driveline Senior Vice President of Technology Dr Ray Kuczera said: “GKN technology and expertise is helping innovative vehicles like the StreetScooter to become a reality. We have been advancing the development of electrified vehicles since 2002 and more than 300,000 cars on the road today are now powered using GKN eDrive technologies. Our broad range of systems are designed to be flexible across a range of vehicle applications – the StreetScooter perfectly demonstrates the benefits of GKN’s strategy for vehicle developers.”