Pickups are an essential part of the electrification effort, and building e-trucks that are as capable as their gasoline-powered counterparts is a major challenge.
After all, customers want to benefit from the same towing and hauling capabilities regardless of the truck’s powertrain. Achieving that can take a lot of development time, something automakers don’t quite have at the moment.
Luckily, auto parts supplier and contract manufacturer Magna International claims to have just the right solution to speed up truck electrification without sacrificing capability. Using drop-in replacements for traditional beam axles, Magna’s eBeam approach is said to bring new electrified pickups and light-commercial vehicles to market faster.
Previewed at CES 2021, eBeam is now further detailed in a report from Automotive News. We're talking an electrified axle for ladder-frame trucks that uses a traditional beam axle architecture, placing the electric motor and transmission directly on that solid rear axle. It can be integrated either with a full battery-electric or hybrid vehicle powertrain.
But perhaps its biggest advantage is the fact that it preserves towing and payload capacity. Furthermore, it does not require the introduction of unique suspension, chassis or brake systems, and enables the use of a lot of the packaging space that the existing systems or architectures have.
Magna’s eBeam approach could significantly speed up development of electrified pickup trucks as automakers would not have to change an entire vehicle platform to electrify it.
“It’s a really big undertaking to completely change a platform in the auto industry, especially one where the volumes are as high as these full-size pickup trucks are. If you can maintain some of those pickup points and overall integration strategy, it becomes a nice, smoother transition into the electrification sector for these vehicles.”
Ryan Shaw, Magna’s manager of advanced engineering driveline systems in North America
Magna offers three eBeam variants with outputs ranging from 120 kW to 250 kW (161–335 hp). They include a single motor with a single speed transmission, a single motor with two speed transmission, or a twin motor with single speed transmission and torque vectoring.
The Canadian company says it is already working with customers that it is not yet allowed to name and expects to demonstrate its eBeam later this year. According to Magna, using the technology will enable electrified pickups to meet or even exceed what today’s pickups are capable of.
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