Dana has started China production of its Spicer AdvanTEK Ultra axle with SmartConnect disconnecting all-wheel-drive (AWD) system.

The component is designed for passenger cars and vans, crossovers, and SUVs and the supplier claims "best-in-class fuel efficiency across all torques, speeds, and temperatures without tradeoffs for durability or comfort".

It uses ultra-low viscosity lubricants while maintaining gear durability and life to achieve up to a claimed 45% reduction in energy loss compared with a typical axle.

Ford chose Dana as its exclusive worldwide supplier of AdvanTEK rear drive units for all versions of the Edge with AWD. The vehicles are available in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific markets.

Systems for vehicles built in Asia-Pacific are made at the supplier's new manufacturing and assembly factory in Chongqing, China.

Axles are traditionally designed to durability specifications, which is followed by engineers calculating the thinnest oil that may be used without sacrificing component life. Dana said its engineers reversed the process for this axle by first defining the specifications for an ideal ultra-low viscosity lubricant, and then designing compatible gears and bearings that take full advantage of the lubricant without sacrificing durability and noise, vibration, and harshness performance.

Future applications will include hybrid vehicles.

Vehicles with disconnecting AWD systems are designed to automatically switch to AWD when the system predicts or detects slipping at the wheels.

The Spicer SmartConnect system configures the drivetrain to work in front-wheel-drive mode for the majority of driving conditions and engages AWD only when needed, improving fuel efficiency.