‘Groundbreaking’ electric vehicle powertrain concept to be developed in US$10m project

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A UK consortium is working on an ambitious project that aims to deliver next generation powertrain development for electric vehicles and is readying the world’s lightest and most efficient unit for market.

The £8m (US$10m) project, led by Tier 1 electric vehicle driveline supplier GKN Automotive, along with Drive System Design and the University of Nottingham, is a collaborative effort to design and develop a world-leading EV powertrain.

Called ACeDrive (Advanced Cooling and Control of High Speed e-Drive), it is aiming to be the world’s lightest and most efficient electric vehicle powertrain suitable for the volume market. The system uses new innovation concepts in cooling and system integration, leading to a reduction in the number and size of components.

“Our whole system approach to engineering will help to combine next-generation electronic components, ground-breaking integration and a high-speed motor, to deliver significantly greater power density and efficiency with lower cost to OEMs,” said Simon Shepherd, head of electrified powertrain at Drive System Design.

The ACeDrive project is said to deliver a complete system that combines a downsized electric motor, optimized transmission and high-frequency inverter within a single unit, enabling shared cooling and a remarkably compact housing. The aim of this is to not only reduce the packaging size and cost but fewer interfaces means less internal friction, improved transmission alignment and a boost in efficiency and NVH management.

By the time the ACeDrive is ready for production in 2023, it aims to boast a 25% reduction in both packaging size and cost, a 20% drop in weight, and a 10% increase in efficiency compared to current equivalents.

GKN Automotive will be responsible for the design of the ACeDrive system, including development of the motor, inverter and transmission. Following detailed simulation and analysis, final design will commence in Q3 2019. Prototyping, rig and vehicle testing will follow in 2020, before a vehicle demonstrator equipped with the prototype system is unveiled for public demonstration in Q1 2021.

The project is also backed by the Advanced Propulsion Center, which is contributing by matching the funding, to help propel the UK as a world leader in electric drivetrain development.

“In partnership with Drive System Design and the University of Nottingham, we are developing a truly advanced eDrive system, more compact and cost-effective than other technologies on the horizon. Our ambition is to help the UK take the lead in electric powertrain design and manufacturing capability,” said Gordon Day, general manager at GKN Automotive Innovation Centre.

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