GKN showcasing Twinster technology at Wintertest in Arjeplog, Northern Sweden

GKN showcasing Twinster technology at Wintertest in Arjeplog, Northern Sweden

GKN Driveline has started deeper testing a new SUV technology research vehicle, highlighting its work in eDrive, All-Wheel Drive (AWD) and systems integration at its Arjeplog winter track in northern Sweden.

News of GKN's continued research comes in the teeth of enormous uncertainty surrounding the company, which is currently fighting off a takeover bid from manufacturing investor, Melrose.

The British supplier has made a robust defence of its business portfolio; of which the GKN Technology Demonstrator 2018 (GTD18) based on a Mercedes-AMG GLA 45, featuring mechanical and electric Twinster torque vectoring, a plug-in hybrid system and re-engineered control systems, is one example.

Following initial testing at GKN Driveline's Lohmar R&D centre in Germany, the GTD18 started deeper validation and proof-of-concept demonstrations recently at the supplier's Wintertest facility in northern Sweden. This year marks the 30th anniversary since GKN first started testing and demonstrating technologies at its dedicated vehicle development facility just outside the Arctic Circle.

"We design and develop on a global scale for around 90%-100% of all global customers," said GKN Driveline CEO, Peter Moelgg at the Arjeplog test centre where temperatures plunged to -24C as the supplier put its components through their paces last week (20 February).

"[Some] 50% of the global car population out there on the road dries with technology from GKN. We have reached now a status of being the number one technology provider for constant velocity joints (CVJ), All Wheel Drive and electric drive. We are, as a Group, focused to provide leading technology – what gives the biggest bang in a car for the buck.

"You need to be where your customers are to bring this technology alive. Technology has to be affordable, so we are geared to look for a cost-competitive solution; 4.0 and complex supply chains are helping us to to be cost-competitive.

"When it comes to vehicle electrification, from a strategic point of view, GKN said right from the beginning, we can't do everything. We don't have access to the market, so that is not where our strength plays. Our choice has been we are going to be a producer of P4 axles in the rear and front."

GKN's eTwinsterX system gives the GTD18 all-wheel torque vectoring capabilities, including the ability to over-speed the outside wheel in a corner to induce a yaw moment, helping to bring the car into a tighter line when turning.

The driving modes – which are switchable 'on-the-fly' – can be selected via a touch pad inside the car. The eTwinsterX system allows for a pure-electric, zero-emissions drive mode through the rear wheels.

Conversely it can also operate in solely front-wheel drive mode. The combination of the two delivers a hybrid eAWD mode with the two powertrains working together

The build involved significant re-engineering work. As well as relocating several components, new hardware was introduced, including a new bespoke rear subframe to integrate the eTwinsterX system, a new high-capacity battery under the rear seats, a new exhaust system and new wiring looms.

In addition, new ECUs were integrated with the existing Mercedes-AMG software control systems. In total, 99 assemblies needed significant mechanical or electrical modifications, resulting in 1,340 new parts being added to the vehicle.

GKN Driveline develops, builds and supplies a wide range of automotive driveline technologies. The supplier is a leading global producer of CVJ Systems, AWD Systems, Trans Axle Solutions and eDrive Systems and operates in 23 countries at 46 locations employing around 25,500 people.

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