Advanced drivetrain technology is being developed by automotive engineering firm GKN to enable future electric cars to mix extreme performance with agility and excellent traction.
The British company, which has contributed to the drive systems of models such as the BMW i8, Porsche 918 Spyder and Ford Focus RS, expects its future technology to include inner-wheel electric motors, allowing for continuous control of torque to each wheel.
“Right now, the technology is not there for us to produce these compact electric drivetrains in sports cars, where big power is needed,” said Theo Gassman, GKN’s director of advanced engineering and eDrive systems. “But for city cars, where the power output of each motor has to be only 20kW or 30kW [27-40bhp], maybe it’s not so far away.”
Gassman said this individual motor layout allows for full torque vectoring, improving agility and traction control. It could also enable the use of smaller brakes because each motor can turn into a high-drag generator that can slow the car as it regenerates energy.