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October 21, 2020 10:00 AM, EDT

Allison Gears Up for E-Axles

AllisonAllison Transmission headquarters. (Allison Transmission

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Allison Transmission Inc., widely known for its medium- and heavy-duty fully automatic transmissions, announced the launch of eGen Power, its series of zero-emission electric axles.

Hino Trucks, using its XL7 model, is testing an eGen Power 100D axle, capable of a 23,000-pound gross axle weight rating as part of Hino’s zero-emission vehicle development program. Hino is a Toyota Group company.

“Obviously, with Hino being a major customer for Allison and a global [original equipment manufacturer], getting them the exposure with our technology product is obviously very important for our electrification plans,” Alexander Schey, Allison’s chief commercialization officer for electrification, told Transport Topics.

He said Hino was pushing electrification “pretty hard” and doing so with a number of different technologies. “For us, it’s really great to be in the mix.”

Allison intends to manufacture the eGen Power electric axles at its recently completed 110,000 square-foot electric axle development and manufacturing facility in Auburn Hills, Mich.

The eGen Power 100D features two electric motors capable of generating 200 kW of continuous power each, or 400 kW in total, with a peak combined power of 550 kW. The eGen Power 100D also integrates a two-speed transmission into the central housing.

Schey was most recently CEO and co-founder of London-based Vantage Power — which Allison acquired in 2019. Vantage specializes in developing electrified propulsion and connected vehicle technologies for medium- and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers.

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At the same time in 2019, Allison acquired AxleTech’s electric vehicle systems division.

“There is just this proliferation of investment that is required to keep these [commercial] vehicles current with the expectations of the market,” Schey said. “That also comes at a time where R&D budgets are getting squeezed. And the novel coronavirus is another subject. What I think that points to is many of the OEMs are looking for leverage with the investments made with their blue chip Tier 1 suppliers, all of whom are investing in this technology as well.”

Electrification is actually not new to Allison, he added. Allison is one of the largest hybrid-propulsion systems suppliers in the world, with thousands of high voltage electric motors in the field, and tens of thousands of battery packs and control systems on city buses.

Schey said that well-recognized history has provided Allison a helping hand as it expands into e-Gen Power axles.

Schey

Schey

“But if we are a little bit more specific on the e-axle side, one of the things that has already become abundantly apparent is putting sensitive mechanical and electrical systems in the e-axle environment is a tremendously challenging engineering task,” he said.

One of the foundational characteristics with Allison’s e-axle rests on its efficiency, according to the Indianapolis-based company.

“Efficiency in electric vehicles is very significant,” Schey said. “Every component needs to play its part. Given that the vast majority of all the energy will be going to the wheels through some sort of propulsion system, the suppliers that can invest and manufacture the most efficient systems are likely able to offer OEMs advantages in terms of low total cost of ownership and lower refueling costs, essentially, and longer range.”

Schey added a final thought on electrification: “I can’t think of any technology in my lifetime where so many companies in an industry have put so much money toward a technology and then have that technology not take off.”

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