Dana has announced that it will supply a lightweight aluminium final drive unit (FDU) for a new generation of all-wheel-drive, small-city automobiles that will soon be available in European markets. Production of the vehicle is due to begin in the autumn of 2004.

Dana's joint-venture partner, GETRAG, is providing the power take-off unit (PTU) for the AWD system. The PTU transfers torque to the rear wheels when additional traction is needed to provide enhanced stability.

Dana's Torque-Traction Group, together with GETRAG, will provide the compact rear differential and the PTU that enables torque to be transferred to the rear wheels when additional traction is needed. Dana says that resultant on-demand AWD system brings enhanced stability and safety to small entry-level passenger cars.

"This program demonstrates Dana's commitment to providing systems solutions to meet the rapidly changing requirements of automotive manufacturers," said Joe Magliochetti, Dana chairman and CEO. "This kind of flexibility is driven by our dedication to advancing the science of power, performance, and mobility for each customer."

The lightweight FDU, featuring a compact 135 mm ring gear, enabled designers to use softer mounting bushings that reduce noise, vibration, and harshness and minimise system complexity. The viscous coupling unit, attached to the FDU for torque on demand, enabled designers to use an uncomplicated and robust propshaft configuration.

Dana says the end result was a simple, yet highly functional, AWD system that delivers maximum value for the vehicle manufacturer and end consumer.

"We expect similar AWD systems utilizing this technology to eventually expand to a number of vehicle platforms, especially in regions where consumers demand small, economical vehicles that can also handle adverse driving conditions," said Bill Carroll, president of Dana's Automotive Systems Group.