Lightweight modular propshaft for pick-up trucks

More than 33 patent families in new modular driveline system.

GKN Automotive has developed a new lightweight modular front propshaft. The advanced driveline system is helping US pick-up trucks evolve from a pure workhorse into a lifestyle vehicle.

Making the driving experience of these vehicles more refined without compromising performance or capability is a significant challenge for automakers. The duty cycle and the angles at which the propshaft must operate at in pick-up trucks and full-size SUVs make the task even harder.
With many pick-ups also introducing part-time all-wheel drive systems to improve economy and emissions, getting the torque from the transfer case to the front axle more smoothly and efficiently has been a priority for automakers looking to offer a more refined driving experience with no loss of capability or performance.

Environmental impact minimised

Improving the weight and NVH performance of the front propshaft in a pick-up truck is complex. More than 33 patent families are associated with GKN Automotive’s innovative propshaft and its related technologies.

The modular propshaft comprises two Constant Velocity Joints, one with a high-strength, lightweight tubular shaft and one with GKN Automotive’s “Direct Torque Flow” interface, a unique way of connecting with the transfer case. The single-piece solution delivers on a number of levels, enhancing performance in all drive modes, and making final assembly into the vehicle simpler and faster.

A new “overmoulded” sealing technology also ensures the joints are lubricated for life with minimum grease, weight and environmental impact.
With two of the biggest names in this sector using the technology, more than a million full-size trucks benefited in the first year alone. GKN Automotive’s solution is a small, but important part of automaker strategies to refine and optimize some of its biggest, hardest working vehicles.