Technological advances are moving fast in the powertrain arena, with electrification and automation demanding innovative solutions.
One of the leaders in the field is Magna Powertrain, which further strengthened its position following the acquisition of GETRAG in January 2016 and subsequent integration into the Magna Powertrain Group. Magna Powertrain (MPT) is a leading full-range supplier of powertrain solutions, including transmissions, engine and drivetrain components, intelligent all-wheel drive systems and powertrain systems for mild hybrid, full hybrid (including plug-in) and electric vehicles.
Automotive Industries (AI) posed the following questions to Jake Hirsch, the president of Magna Powertrain, Inc. AI: How well is the merging of technology and knowledge of Magna and GETRAG going?
Hirsch: Our integration process is essentially complete, and we are already seeing big benefits in the areas of technology sharing and overall knowledge sharing. With the innovative, platform based, package-neutral solution GETRAG has developed to transform a DCT into a hybrid DCT (HDT) we can offer significant advantages to our OEM customers in the traditional, mild and full hybrid powertrain segments.
AI: What benefits will your customers be enjoying?
Hirsch: We are now able to offer our customers a complete powertrain system. Our combined knowledge in transmissions, drivetrain and eMobility products, as well as our vast know-how
and experience in systems integration, make us a great partner for our OEM customers globally.
AI: How are you helping to reduce CO2 emissions?
Hirsch: The design architecture of the GETRAG product (layshaft gear arrangement) offers a significant improvement in efficiency when compared to other types of automatic transmissions. This is improved when one of our manual transmissions (MT) and / or dual clutch automatic transmissions (DCT) are hybridized. We offer OEM customers, what we call a “Hybrid Kit”, which is a package-neutral solution for both mild (48v) and plug-in (high voltage) hybrid powertrains.
In the 4WD and AWD space, we have launched our Flex4 automatic disconnect technology in the Audi Quattro Ultra AWD system. This system will improve overall efficiency by utilizing a wet clutch to transmit torque variably (vs a fixed differential) and further improves efficiency by fully disconnecting the AWD system when it is not needed. The system seamlessly reconnects whenever AWD performance is needed, so the customer realizes improved fuel economy plus enhanced performance. In addition, we are committed to general efficiency and light-weighting initiatives in all of our products via design optimization and alternative materials. Our Fluid Pressure and Controls Group, together with the Electronics Group, are bringing fuel-efficient, CO2-reducing on-demand powertrain products (pumps, fans, etc.) to our OEM customers.
AI: Is it a one-size-fits-all?
Hirsch: MPT’s products offer our customers platform solutions, with the addition of a high level of customization. We standardize on core modules to gain maximum economies of scale, and then leverage our knowledge of controls and integration to help each customer achieve their targets for any vehicle platform. As an example, our Actimax Transfer Cases for rear wheel drive vehicles are used in OEM products ranging from pick-up trucks and full-sized SUVs to luxury and performance based passenger cars and SUVs. Our DCT300 platform offers our latest platform technology in the FWD automatic transmission space, and will be deployed in OEM platforms in Europe and China.
AI: What are your projections on the rollout of hybrid drives?
Hirsch: The market for electrified powertrains is dynamic and ever changing. Like most industry forecasting companies predict, we foresee an extended period of powertrain electrification expansion, and with that we expect to see an increase in the complexity of solutions our OEM customers will need to bring to market. Although the internal combustion engine (ICE) will be around for years to come, we foresee hybridization (micro, mild and full / plug-in) as well as full EVs growing in penetration over time.
This is where our vast experience in powertrain solutions really comes in to help our OEM customers. We have unique products for every possible powertrain configuration, from 48V eAxles and PowerSplit Differentials to electric secondary axles like the system found in the Volvo V60 PHEV and plug-in hybrid solutions with hybridized transmissions. We also offer complete electric vehicle powertrains. Magna has significant experience in the EV powertrain space, as evidenced by the Ford Focus EV powertrain system, which Magna developed from the ground-up and has been producing in volume since 2012. We have also been producing a P4 PHEV electric axle for Volvo since 2012. Whatever our customer needs, we are there with competitive product solutions to help them achieve their targets for CO2 and fuel economy. AI: How do modern all-wheel drive systems reduce fuel consumption and emissions?
Hirsch: All-wheel drive systems inherently reduce the overall efficiency of the vehicle due to losses in the secondary driveline. Our latest products focus on improving efficiency when the system is operating, and also on disconnecting the system whenever it is not needed. It’s analogous to a light bulb: you really only turn it on when you need it. Our Flex4 system is always monitoring driving conditions and can quickly and seamlessly disengage and re-engage the AWD system to save CO2 and improve fuel efficiency.
AI: Where to next?
Hirsch: The explosion of various powertrain options we are seeing in the industry will dominate the powertrain landscape for years to come. To succeed it is important to provide our OEM customers with a wide choice, and to be flexible enough to move with the market. At MPT we are committed to satisfying the needs of all our OEM customers by providing products and systems that improve both performance and efficiency, and by offering solutions in all segments from traditional ICE powertrains to full Electric Vehicles.
Long term, the vehicle will continue to become more and more connected to the world it operates in. The connection Magna has internally between our Powertrain Group and our Electronics Group, which is focused on Driver Assistance (ADAS) and autonomous driving technologies, will enable Magna to be on the forefront regarding new advancements in the passenger car segment. This connectivity will impact how the powertrain in the car of the future will operate, including increasing levels of autonomous driving.