GKN plc has opened a new UK Innovation Centre for its automotive division, which will focus on developing state-of-the-art vehicle technologies and systems. The centre, in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK, will make use of GKN group’s expertise in electrified drivelines through lightweight structures, composite materials and Additive Manufacturing to create a range of new technologies for next-generation vehicles.
Central to GKN’s recently-announced Official Partnership with the Panasonic Jaguar Racing Formula E team, the UK Innovation Centre will take the lead on delivering the group’s new components and technologies for the Jaguar Formula E electric race car. GKN has already delivered its first parts for the I-TYPE 2 in the form of custom-built fluid ports made from laser-sintered steel.
“Our new UK Innovation Centre will develop an array of next-generation technologies that will deliver significant benefits to electric vehicle, motorsport and off-highway applications,” said Phil Swash, GKN Driveline CEO.
“For electrified systems in particular, GKN’s expertise will help automakers to develop lighter, quieter and more efficient vehicles. No other company can apply aerospace experience to automotive applications in the same way as GKN, unlocking exciting opportunities for Additive Manufacturing and composites.”
At the launch of the new centre, GKN displayed a range of its automotive technologies, including:
Two-speed TorqueShift powertrains
GKN states that it has developed the only two-speed eTransmission currently in production – for the BMW i8 hybrid supercar – and revealed the world’s first fully-electric drive system with two-speed gearing and Twinster torque vectoring technology at the Frankfurt Motor Show – the eTwinsterX.
At the UK Innovation Centre, GKN will work to develop a new ‘TorqueShift’ system for electric vehicles. The company stated that two-speed systems can deliver more ‘miles per kilowatt’ than conventional eDrive systems, but GKN is focused on developing a ‘dual-clutch feel’ experience for electric car drivers.
Electric motors and flywheels
The UK Innovation Centre is now developing a new prototype energy storage unit, which will have a significantly larger capacity at lower cost than its previous-generation flywheel systems, stated GKN. This new flywheel technology has been designed specifically with commercial vehicles and off-highway applications in mind, delivering useful electric-driving capability without the higher cost of a plug-in hybrid or fully-electric system.