More a showcase than a production vehicle, the Renegade eAWD BEV is an example of how a major parts supplier claims to be able to help car makers achieve full or, in other circumstances, partial, electrification of their existing models without breaking the bank. It’s an attractive concept at a time when most manufacturers are struggling to turn a profit on their electric cars.
GKN, the supplier in question, has replaced much of the Jeep Renegade’s standard hardware, including the engine, with its latest generation of standardised, off-the-shelf, power and transmission systems featuring all-wheel drive and, on the front wheels, torque vectoring. The combined power output of the vehicle’s two electric motors is 261bhp, split evenly front and back.
The power source, a two-piece battery pack made by GKN and combining 14kWh and 24kWk capacities to give a total of 38kWh, is distributed in the vehicle floor. The two, axle-mounted power and drive systems are of the so-called 2-in-1 variety; that is, they each combine an electric motor and transmission, also made by GKN. The power inverter is mounted separately. Higher outputs, as well as 3-in-1 systems combining the inverter, are also available off-the-shelf for other applications. In the case of the Renegade, the front-mounted electric motor is of the permanent magnet type, a technology preferred by most car makers for its efficiency, while the rear is an induction motor.
The car’s front-mounted eTwinster is a development of GKN’s existing system that uses clutches to control the flow of torque to each front wheel independently of the other for a safer but also more engaging – read fun – driving experience. The technology has already been seen in models including the Range Rover Evoque and Ford Focus RS but in this latest form it’s combined with an electric motor and a two-speed automatic transmission, a development of the gearbox first seen in the BMW i8.
GKN claims the adoption of two speeds gives a better balance of acceleration and top speed than is possible with a single-speed system. It also keeps the electric motor operating at its sweet spot to help extend driving range. All that said, single-speed transmissions are forecast to be the dominant solution for EVs and indeed, the Renegade’s rear-mounted transmission is just such a unit.