GKN Automotive, the world leader in conventional and electrified driveline systems, is developing the intelligent, advanced driveline technology of the future for a new generation of vehicles, as all-wheel drive (AWD) and hybrid electric vehicle production is forecast to soar on the back of growing consumer demand.
Despite competition from emerging automotive markets, North America will retain its positon as the largest AWD production market, with independent forecasts from IHS Automotive indicating AWD systems will increase by 21 percent by calendar year 2020 to reach around three million AWD systems installed on vehicles produced in the NAFTA region per year. Additionally, GKN is uniquely positioned to grow with the hybrid and electric vehicle market, forecasting that by 2025 more than 30 percent of all vehicles produced will have some form of electrification in the powertrain.
To support its customers' AWD and hybrid electric programs, GKN Automotive today officially opened its Americas regional headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The new state-of-the-art facility offers GKN 20 percent more space for engineering and testing activities, enabling it to develop and integrate the AWD, hybrid and electric vehicle driveline technologies of the future.
"There is growing demand for AWD capability, particularly here in North America, as consumers want to have safer, more fuel efficient vehicles, but still maintain the characteristics of ride and handling that make driving exciting," said Steve LaChance, GKN Driveline North America's Vice President of Engineering. "GKN has the ability to develop and manufacture complete AWD systems, including both the hardware and the software and tuning capabilities to deliver a brand-aligned driving experience, and integrate them into our customers' vehicles."
In addition to traditional AWD systems, GKN is pioneering hybrid AWD through its market leading transmissions and eAxles for electric and hybrid vehicles. The company recently won a 2015 PACE Award for its two-speed eAxle on the BMW i8, and also was awarded Technology Partner status for the eAxle developed for the Porsche 918 Spyder. "We were especially proud to be part of these two amazing vehicles," commented LaChance. "We see this as a great trend for the future - hybrid and AWD vehicles that are great to drive."
Robert Willig, President of GKN Driveline Americas, welcomed the new facility that will support the company's future programs and technology innovations. "Our new headquarters here in Auburn Hills is an important element of our engineering capabilities as it provides more space for our engineers and is located in an important auto hub where we can continue to attract top talent.
"This is key as AWD and hybrid electric technology evolves and we develop the next generation of systems. Engineering excellence has long been a hallmark of GKN Automotive and the development of a fully-integrated AWD system is an important evolution in our ability to serve the global auto industry."
GKN is the first automotive supplier to provide a fully-integrated AWD system. The system is the basis for the global platform from FCA that includes the FIAT® 500X and the Jeep Renegade®. The FCA platform sources the complete driveline, from transmission to wheel, from GKN, including AWD, AWD Disconnect and front-wheel drive variants. Every part of the system is designed by GKN and manufactured by the company's global production facilities, with GKN's software capabilities ensuring the drive dynamics across their two vehicles align with their respective brands' DNA .
"GKN's unparalleled experience in systems integration and vehicle engineering, combined with our AWD design and manufacturing experience make us an ideal partner for developing and optimizing the next generation of hybrid and electric vehicles," concluded LaChance. "We see significant growth not only in traditional and Disconnect AWD, but in hybrid and electric vehicles, and we are excited that the market has adopted our technology in a wide range of vehicles."
1. IHS: AWD systems is defined as all-wheel drive for FWD vehicles.
GKN plc is a global engineering group. It has four divisions; GKN Aerospace, GKN Driveline, GKN Powder Metallurgy and GKN Land Systems, which operate in the aerospace, automotive and land systems markets. Nearly 50,000 people work in GKN companies and joint ventures in more than 30 countries. GKN is listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE: GKN) and recorded sales of GBP7.5 billion in the year to 31 December 2014.
ABOUT GKN AUTOMOTIVE
GKN Automotive is the world's leading driveline technology engineer, an expert in conventional, hybrid and electrified power delivery. Encompassing GKN Driveline and GKN Sinter Metals divisions, GKN Automotive is a true integration partner to the world motor industry, delivering brand aligned driving experiences from city to sports cars and advanced all-wheel drive to intelligent hybrids. With 46 manufacturing sites across 22 countries, GKN Driveline employs over 26,500 people globally. GKN Sinter Metals, the world's largest producer of precision powder metal components, boasts an experienced team of 6,500 people and supplies customers from over 30 locations across five continents.