just-auto.com

USA: American Axle & Manufacturing introduces new front axle module

By just-auto.com editorial team | 28 February 2001

American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings today launched an Integrated Oil Pan (IOP) front axle module with electronic disconnect which will be used in the 2002 General Motors mid-sized Trailblazer, Envoy and Bravada sport utility vehicles.

The IOP front axle module was designed and developed by AAM to meet vehicle manufacturers' demands for improved performance, durability, weight reduction, packaging, operating temperature control and vehicle system electrical interface compatibility and control.

Torque from the vehicle driveline system is transmitted to the IOP front axle, halfshafts, and ultimately, the front wheels, when the vehicle is engaged in four wheel drive. When the vehicle is in two wheel drive, the electronic disconnect uncouples the front axle from the driveline system to allow for reduced rolling friction.

The IOP uses a precision electrical actuator to engage the shift mechanism and provide feedback to the vehicle's driveline control system -- indicating that the vehicle is in four wheel drive.

The IOP provides a central point of engagement that, along with the transfer case disconnect, reduces the number of rotating parts.

The electronic actuator provides consistent 'on-demand'engagements over the life of the vehicle. Both features reduce vehicle system parasitic losses(inefficiencies) found in traditional four-wheel-drive systems.

"The IOP front axle module includes innovative and evolutionary design improvements over current axle designs which yield significant improvements in vehicle performance, ease of manufacturing, and driveline durability," says Daniel V. Sagady P.E., vice president, engineering & product development.

The IOP front axle assembly features a cast aluminum housing and die-cast aluminum shift fork, lifetime lubrication, enhanced durability seals and 15 new components.

It is produced using an automated manufacturing process at AAM's Detroit Gear & Axle plant in Detroit, Michigan.