UPDATE at the end
In this world there are lucky people, and less lucky people, but if somebody starts his report with the sentence:
“It can’t be more fun than this in a car – at least with your pants on. Trust us!”
then he belongs to the lucky ones. 🙂
Pär Brandt from the Swedish car-magazine auto motor & sport was one of those few lucky people that have been able to test e-AAM’s new electric 4WD system.
Earlier in 2010 Saab joined forces with AAM to bring to life an electrical rear axle. This idea wasn’t a new one as the Saab engineers started working on that in 2007.
After the whole Saab affair the project came back to life. Saab understood at that time, that they needed an independent partner, not only to help financing the development, but also for a later marketing of the product to other companies.
American Axle Manufacturing (AAM) was rapidly seen as the prefect partner. AMM wasn’t too big and needed to acquire hybrid technology knowledge in order to be competitive in the near future.
About 20 engineers from Saab changed employer to e-AAM driveline systems AB, and they seem to have fun in their new job.
But why can a so boring looking piece of metal like this, be so much fun?
For instance the current 9-3 diesel with 119g/km CO2 could reduce this value to 84g/km and at the same time also reduce the 0-100kph value by a second, if it would use the eXWD rear axle. So you can reduce the consumption by almost 30% and increase the performance at the same time, not to forget that you would also have all the positive effects of a torque vectoring AWD system, and for the same money as a mechanical AWD system.
And what is this torque vectoring?
By rising the torque on the rear outer wheel in a curve, the car tends to steer in the curve without the help of the steering wheel. Other mechanical systems do brake the inner wheel to reach a similar effect, but if you want to be fast around the corner, braking has never been useful !! 😉
Yes there are some mechanical systems that are also able to do that, but they can’t change their character by pressing a button. 😎
Pär Brandt did test this little devil in a current 9-3:
We have tested today’s 9-3 with eAWD and can only conclude that this is one of the biggest technological breakthrough that have occurred in recent decades. As driver, you experience a magical feeling that the car reads your mind going to where you want, at least as long as there is some little grip left in the tires.
The first car with this system will be the NG9-3, but there are already some third parties willing to pay some Krona in order to be allowed to use this system.
Magnus Rydell, from e-AAM, even thinks that their system is 2 years ahead of their closest competitor.
The information given in this article is too much to summarize it in a short post, but I would like to expose to facts:
— The system can be used as a fun to drive 4WD system, but it can also be used in a hybrid configuration, or you can also put a bigger engine and use it in a plug-in hybrid car, or maybe in an all-electric RWD car (i3 anyone), or use the system also for the front wheel having a all-electric AWD car, with the same torque vectoring capabilities.
— While I have the impression that Volvo and Peugeot have concentrated their development on the CO2 reduction, the Saab engineers have created a multi-purpose system that can be fun to drive while being able to reduce the consumption by a big amount, which is in accordance with the responsible performance tag.
Audi said last year that the A4 would come out in 2014 with a similar system, BMW
has created a partnership with PSA (Peugeot-Citroen) to develop the RWD-system of their new i3 car. I’m really getting excited about the next 9-3.
I have some answers to some of your questions from Djup Strupe.
The difference between the Saab system and the Peugeot system for instance is the torque vectoring capability. The system from Peugeot is simply an electric drive rear axle, as you can find it also on the Lexus RX. See the video for comparison.
And for the ones that want the system now.
e-AAM has already reduced the development time by one year in order to be able to deliver the system in time for the launch of the NG9-3. It would be nice to have it now, but it is still not ready for the market.