GKN Debuts Fully Integrated Electric Car Drive System In Shanghai


Time was when car companies made cars. They made the engines, transmissions, and axles. They made the sheet metal and the seats. Just about the only thing they didn’t make themselves was the windshield and the rest of the glass. Today, those companies are more assemblers than they are manufacturers, especially when it comes to electric and electrified cars. Someone else makes the electric motor. Someone else makes the battery. Another company makes the battery management system. GKN is one of the world’s largest OEM suppliers. Lately, most of its focus has been on building an electric car drive system that manufacturers can buy ready made and install at their own factories.

GKN eDrive electric car powertrain

The advantage for car companies is they don’t have to spend precious resources to develop proprietary electric car propulsion systems. GKN has done all the R&D. All the manufacturer has to do is tell GKN how many units it wants and when. First presented publicly at the  Shanghai auto show, the GKN product is the first to use a fully integrated design that packages the electric motor, power inverter and eAxle reduction gearbox into a single housing. Putting all the pieces in one unit makes it easier for manufacturers to integrate the drive components into its vehicles.

Called the eDrive system, is about 15% smaller, 10% lighter, more efficient than electric car drive systems that use separate components. Building one product for several manufacturers means GKN can spread the cost of development over more units, which brings economies of scale into play and permits lower costs than conventional drive systems. Lower electric car prices are good for everyone, especially consumers.

The close proximity of the components results in significant improvements in both mechanical and electrical efficiency, GKN says. The optimized packaging also helps reduce noise and vibration. GKN designed in the necessary cooling from the start, leading to further efficiencies in the system.

China is expected to be a major electric car market and GKN expects its eDrive system to satisfy the needs of many Chinese manufacturers. It predicts that its Chinese joint venture — Shanghai GKN HUAYU Driveline Systems (SDS) — will produce over 1 million eDrive units per year by 2025. Peter Moelgg, CEO of GKN Driveline says: “We constantly work in partnership with our customers to make our technology smaller and lighter, while retaining high performance and efficiency. Our eDrive concept being presented in Shanghai is a perfect example of this, showcasing GKN’s expertise in complete mechanical and electrical systems that will enable the next-generation of electrified vehicles.”

GKN has a wealth of experience with electric drivetrains. Since 2002 and has produced nearly 400,000 eDrive units at its factories in Europe and Japan. The company was instrumental in the development of the powertrain for the Porsche 918 Spyder and the two speed eAxle in the BMW i8. It also supplies the eAxle used in the Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid.

Source: Electric Cars Report

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • Ed

    Brilliant piece of packaging and engineering. It looks small enough to fit where the differential of a conventional rear wheel drive cars sits, meaning the space for an engine and transmission are available for better packaging. Still need batteries, but in terms of total volume, the engine, transmission, driveshaft, exhaust system, mufflers, catalytic converters, fuel tank, isolation mounts, coolant tank, some radiator volume, air cleaner and more are missing. Amazing.

    • mb

      Couldn’t agree more: smaller footprint, more efficient, lower cost: this should really take off

  • WebUserAtLarge

    With the previous article in mind, how would this work in a multi-motor EV?

    • Steve Hanley

      Interesting thought. Can’t think of any reason why there couldn’t be one in the front and another in the rear.

  • J_JamesM

    Ooh, I imagine something like this would be a terrific boon for people who want to restomod classic cars with electric components. In order to do so, modularity is vital. That cuts down on expense, labor, and the amount of custom fitting and fabrication that is necessary.

    • kevin mccune

      Especially on something with a separate frame, more details Steve, if you would.

      • Steve Hanley

        If I had ’em, I’d share ’em with you, Kevin!

  • eveplayer77

    this is nice !!!!! Small and cheap. bye bye ice age…