American Axle & Manufacturing has a new contract to produce power-transfer units (PTUs) for Ford Motor Co. all-wheel drive (AWD) crossover vehicles, starting with the 2019 Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus. Neither the production volumes nor contract value were announced by American Axle, the Tier One automotive supplier that forges driveline and drivetrain components and modules, chassis systems, and a variety of ductile iron castings for engine, powertrain, and structural components in automotive and commercial vehicle applications.
The PTU is a part of the EcoTrac® Disconnecting AWD package developed by AAM, which it noted is already available in Ford vehicles. It added that along with increasing its role as Ford’s supplier the new contract will expand its position in the global crossover vehicle segment.
“Sales of crossover vehicles continue to significantly grow in markets around the globe,” according to David C. Dauch, AAM chairman and CEO. “Crossover buyers want a vehicle that is fuel efficient and safe. AAM’s PTU helps deliver power while increasing efficiency.”
The EcoTrac products will be manufactured at AAM plants in Michigan, China, Mexico, and Poland.
The Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus (a new brand name for the current Lincoln MKX) are compact crossover SUVs that Ford Motor Co. plans to update with new options for the 2019 model year, including a higher design option that will feature a 2.7 L EcoBoost twin turbocharged V6 engine.
In AWD vehicle design, the PTU directs power from the transmission to the rear drive module via the driveshaft when torque is required. When only front wheel drive is required, AAM’s EcoTrac PTU disconnects and stops the driveshaft motion, cancelling power transfer to the RDM. “Less spinning helps increase efficiency and reduces emissions while still providing enhanced safety when needed,” according to American Axle.
AAM described the PTU as “the heart of the vehicles’ Intelligent AWD, which uses sensors to constantly monitor traction and assist the driver through difficult weather and challenging road conditions.”
The EcoTrac system has been available since 2013, and the supplier indicated it has delivered more than 600,000 of the systems since then. It forecast that the EcoTrac would represent $800 million in annual revenue by the end of 2020.
In addition to the disconnecting PTU, the EcoTrac products include multi-piece driveshafts, rear drive modules with electronic control units, and torque transfer devices.