Our heritage

More than 70 years of being the first to put key technologies into series production. This is how GKN Automotive became the world’s leading driveline supplier. 

Engineers who solve problems, create value

GKN Automotive’s roots in the automotive industry go back to the 1930s when GKN first started to produce military vehicles, including Spitfires and tanks used in the D-Day landings. 

This then evolved into automotive parts production in the 1950s with GKN making a name for itself as a supplier to Jaguar and the XK120 that won the prestigious Alpine Rally.  

As the 1960s accelerated demand for personal mobility, GKN started to make constant velocity joints. CV joints revolutionised the auto industry, enabling a new generation of front-wheel drive cars – including the iconic Mini.  

GKN Automotive emerged as a major force in this sector and, in the subsequent decades, successfully reproduced its production quality at new plants around the world serving an increasingly global industry.  And in 1988, it became the first international supplier to establish a joint venture in China, Shanghai GKN Driveshaft.  

As driveline requirements evolved, so have GKN Automotive's capabilities. The leader in complete all-wheel drive and eDrive systems since 2002, the company has an unmatched track record for delivering complete, fully integrated AWD and eDrive systems.

GKN Automotive has pioneered the development and industrialization of electric axle drives for use in plug-in hybrid and pure electric vehicles. It has also driven the introduction of all-wheel drive systems with disconnect and torque vectoring functions that deliver significant improvements in the vehicle’s emissions and dynamic response. 

More than 900,000 hybrid and electric vehicles are on the road today using GKN Automotive’s systems. Many more use the company’s all-wheel drive technologies.  

Key dates 2002 - 2011

2002 Nissan Cube launched with a GKN Automotive "e4WD" system. The small eDrive module on the rear axle provided additional traction and improved efficiency.  

2002 First complete all-wheel drive systems supplied to GM Sigma platform, the Chrysler minivan and the Fiat Panda 4x4. 

2007 Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid features the world’s first dedicated hybrid transmission, an eTransmission built by GKN Automotive. 

2011 Acquisition of Getrag’s all-wheel drive operations recognized key strategic role all-wheel drive would play in driving experiences and future hybridization strategies. The move positioned GKN Automotive as the leading supplier and development partner for advanced drivetrains. 

2011 Range Rover Evoque launches, featuring GKN Automotive’s Disconnect technology and Twinster torque vectoring system. 

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Key dates 2012 - 2013

2012 Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4, the world's first mass production diesel-electric hybrid, uses a GKN Automotive eDrive. The system supports the vehicle’s four different operating modes, including four-wheel drive and zero-emissions modes. 

2013 GKN Automotive named Official Porsche Technology Partner in recognition of its contribution to groundbreaking 2013 Porsche 918 eSpyder plug-in hybrid supercar. 

2013 Fiat 500e, sold in limited numbers in key US cities, emerged as one of the most critically acclaimed vehicles in the segment. The lightweight, dynamic pure electric vehicle, which uses an 85kW eDrive from GKN Automotive, quickly sold out in California. 

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Key dates 2014 - 2019

2014 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car features the world’s first two-speed eDrive system, another game-changing innovation from GKN Automotive. 

2014 Volvo XC90 launches as the first of a new generation of Volvos built on the company’s Scalable Product Architecture, with all-wheel drive and eDrive modules developed in partnership with GKN Automotive. 

2014 Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade launch, using common GKN Automotive all-wheel drive systems with software producing differentiated driving experiences. 

2016 Ford Focus RS features world’s first Drift Mode, a function and an innovative all-wheel drive system 

2018 GKN Automotive supplies eDrive for LEVC TX, the new generation electric London taxi. 

2019 900,000 electrified vehicles drive system delivered by GKN Automotive.