GKN Driveline is extending a global partnership with BMW to include supplying electric axle drive systems for a plug-in hybrid version of the BMW X1 crossover vehicle, for the Chinese market. The new driveline system is part of a scalable family of eAxles used in the plug-in hybrid BMW 2 Series Active Tourer 225xe.

“This latest program launch for The BMW Group in China shows GKN’s global leadership in electric drive systems,” according to GKN Driveline CEO Phil Swash.

The BMW X1 is a compact crossover manufactured and marketed worldwide by BMW since 2009 in rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations. Now in its second generation, the BMW X1 will be offered in China only with a hybrid powertrain:  This version was introduced at a Chinese auto show in September, and based on a long-wheelbase version of the second-generation BMW X1, which debuted in the U.S. earlier this year.

The eAxles will be manufactured by GKN in Bruneck, Italy, though the application for the BMW X1 and development work was carried out at a GKN operation in Shanghai.

Operating in 23 countries, GKN Driveline develops and manufactures automotive driveline technology and systems, including CVJ systems, AWD systems, trans axle solutions and eDrive systems. It introduced eAxle technology in 2002, and has expanded its scope from niche vehicle applications to a technology installed in high-volume, mass-market vehicles, for M-4WD and hybrid AWD systems.

Early versions of the eAxle drive were used by automakers to create plug-in hybrid sports cars with electric all-wheel drives. Now, automakers are using the eAxle to power newer compact vehicles with GKN electric drive technology.

“Automakers’ evolving powertrain strategies require suppliers with a focus on mass-production of key technologies – and system integration capability,” stated Peter Moelgg, CEO of GKN Driveline’s AW&E Drive business.

As detailed by the developer, the single-speed design has a transmission ratio of 12.5:1, reducing the electric motor speed in two stages. It generates up to 2,000 Nm and 70 kW of additional torque and power, which is enough for a vehicle’s “pure electric” mode to accelerate up to 125 km/h, and for an all-wheel drive (AWD) mode that accelerates faster than conventional mechanical AWD systems.

When hybrid operation is not required, an electromechanically actuated dog clutch disconnects the e-machine from the driveline, minimizing losses at higher vehicle speeds.

Also, GKN has optimized gear and bearing arrangements for optimum efficiency, NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) and durability.

“The combination of our proven driveline innovation experience, all-wheel drive expertise and eAxle production capabilities are making eAWD viable in compact vehicles,” according to Moelgg. “GKN’s hardware and software expertise is also supporting the development of future platforms – these will need driveline suppliers to interface effectively with the rest of the vehicle’s electronic architecture.”