Issue: Apr 2017


AM's New QUANTUM Driveline Technology Reduces Axle Weight, Increases Efficiency



by Jon Knox

One of the most critical vehicle systems, the axle, delivers power and torque from the transmission and drive shaft to the wheels. This proven system has not been markedly changed for decades. Until now. Until QUANTUM™.

 

Throwing out the blueprint for axle design and starting over, American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) has developed completely new, significantly improved axle technology. QUANTUM driveline technology is scalable across a wide range of vehicle segments and provides substantial advantages regardless of vehicle size – reduced mass, increased power density, improved noise vibration and harshness (NVH) and efficiency gains in a more compact system package.

 

"Quite simply, AAM's QUANTUM is a game changer," said David C. Dauch, AAM chairman and chief executive officer. "What started as spark of an idea with our engineers has progressed to a proven technology that will increase vehicle efficiency, improve fuel economy and increase power density. Our customers will see a difference in axle packaging and drivers will see a difference at the gas pump."

 

Completely new axle design

 

AAM's advanced engineers had a radical idea. What if you could redesign and rework the axle to increase efficiency? After several years of benchmarking non-automotive products, spending countless development hours, running arduous hardware tests and securing more than a dozen patents, AAM engineers redesigned virtually every component of the traditional axle. What resulted is the QUANTUM family of axles that yield significant gains in efficiency, performance and packaging all while reducing system weight.

 

"The numbers are amazing," said Phil Guys, AAM vice president and chief technology officer. "QUANTUM's 20 percent power density increase comes with a minimum 30 percent mass reduction at the same torque capacity. For a heavy-duty pickup, QUANTUM provides more than 100 lbs. of vehicle weight savings. It is significantly more efficient without any reduction in performance."

 

QUANTUM's new design is centered on using traditional axle components in new ways. Bearings are arranged more efficiently and gears are set in optimal positions.  AAM's engineers utilized system innovation to eliminate weight by combining functions of many components and developing proprietary lubricants that would increase system efficiency and durability. In a traditional axle, shims are used to ensure an axle's hypoid gears are installed precisely for optimum durability and NVH. Because of QUANTUM's smart design, engineers were able to eliminate the need for shims while still providing up to a 5 dB improvement in NVH performance.

 

"QUANTUM's innovative gear and bearing design coupled with optimized housing allowed AAM to significantly reduce the packaging space," said Guys.  "This means our customers gain valuable space for other vehicle content that is important to their customers such as a lower load floor or even a larger fuel tank."

 

Scalable across vehicle segments, QUANTUM can be adapted for use on virtually any size truck or passenger vehicle. AAM initially designed a QUANTUM lightweight beam axle for rear-wheel drive (RWD) vehicles such as pickup trucks but has expanded QUANTUM technology to include RWD and all-wheel drive (AWD) passenger vehicles, crossovers and SUVs.

 

Beam Axles

 

QUANTUM beam axles are scalable and can be used on heavy-, medium or light-duty RWD based pickups. This workhorse and lightweight axle results in increased vehicle payload capacity. It is up to 35 percent lighter and up to 30 percent more efficient when compared to a traditional axle.

 

AWD and RWD Modules

 

For customers looking for systems on other vehicle segments, AAM developed QUANTUM RWD and AWD modules. With typical applications including passenger cars, crossovers and SUVs, QUANTUM RWD and AWD modules can be designed and built for multiple configurations and sizes. These lightweight and efficient modules are available in open, mechanical limited slip, electronic limited slip and torque vectoring configurations and can be equipped with AAM's first-to-market EcoTrac® Disconnecting AWD technology. QUANTUM RWD and AWD systems are up to 25 percent lighter and up to 30 percent more efficient compared to a traditional axle for these segments of vehicles. QUANTUM AWD and RWD modules also have a reduced packaging size allowing OEMs space flexibility for other vehicle systems.

 

EcoTrac® Disconnecting Modules

 

QUANTUM driveline technology is scalable for virtually any size vehicle and the technology can also be coupled with other AAM products to offer improvements in vehicle performance, fuel economy and passenger safety.

 

When installed together, QUANTUM and EcoTrac provide further fuel economy savings while also improving passenger safety. AAM's EcoTrac AWD gives drivers the performance of an AWD vehicle with the fuel economy of a FWD vehicle by using only the front wheels when AWD is not required. EcoTrac senses when AWD is needed and automatically and seamlessly engages AWD. When road and weather conditions do not necessitate AWD, the vehicle uses only its primary drive system, the front wheels to maximize fuel efficiency. Unlike conventional AWD systems, EcoTrac disconnects at the rear drive module (RDM) and the power transfer unit (PTU), causing the driveshaft to stop spinning when the system is disconnected. Fewer spinning components means less fuel consumption and fewer emissions.

 

TracRite® Differentials

 

AAM's portfolio of TracRite® differentials can be designed into the drive system to improve traction, handling, stability and performance. AAM's full range of differentials includes open, mechanical limited slip, electronic lockers, automatic lockers and electronic limited slip technologies.

 

"AAM's core mission is to Deliver Power," said Dauch. "We do that with the industry's most durable, efficient and technologically advanced driveline products. QUANTUM is just our first step toward innovating future products that are lighter, stronger, smarter and help meet our customers' requirements and global drivers' needs."

 

About AAM

AAM (NYSE: AXL) is a world leader in the manufacture, engineering, design and validation of driveline and drivetrain systems and related components and modules, chassis systems and metal-formed products for light trucks, sport utility vehicles, passenger cars, crossover vehicles and commercial vehicles. In addition to locations in the United States (Indiana, Michigan and Ohio), AAM also has offices or facilities in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Poland, Scotland, South Korea, Sweden and Thailand. To learn more, visit www.aam.com



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