Thursday, 3 September 2015

Ricardo cuts rear drive unit weight by 25%

Ricardo claims that by using state-of-the-art technologies it can cut the weight of a rear drive unit by 25 per cent

The unit is part of Ricardo’s contribution to the Ultra-Lightweight Transmission and driveline research project (ULTRAN) and will be displayed publically for the first time at LCV 2015.

The ULTRAN research project aims to accelerate cost-effective lightweight drivetrain technologies in order to cut future vehicle powertrain weight, and so improve vehicle performance and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The project is led by JaguarLandRover (JLR) in a consortium including Ricardo, Tata Steel, Lubrizol, GRM Consulting Ltd, American Axle Manufacturing and the Universities of Southampton, Newcastle and Warwick. It is supported by Innovate UK.

The project is in the process of evaluating and demonstrating, a wide range of lightweight driveline technologies using the latest generation Range Rover as the baseline for the research.

In the project, which further reinforces Ricardo and JLR’s close contact, the Shoreham-based company has taken a clean sheet approach for its design which is based around a lightweight differential mounted within a compact, single-piece skeletal casing with tough, lightweight plastic covers.

In addition to a 25 per cent cut in weight over a current production component, the unit is considerably more compact and frees-up valuable package space.

It is stiffer too and provides improved NVH performance.

Ricardo claims that whilst innovative in design, the low mass rear drive unit uses existing materials and manufacturing processes, and could be applied in series production within three years following successful trials.

Next generation materials and manufacturing processes are being developed to further improve performance and weight reduction.

By bringing together all aspects of design, manufacturing and materials, ULTRAN aims to deliver a complete solution.

Ricardo has also manufactured prototypes of the unit for both rig and vehicle based testing and evaluation to confirm durability and anticipated carbon dioxide savings.

Ricardo activities on the ULTRAN project have also included further lightweight design and analysis studies on transmission, driveline and dual mass flywheel systems.

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