Yesterday’s post about Nissan’s struggle to adapt its novel e-Power system to larger, American-friendly vehicles reminded this writer of a product Bosch unveiled last year. Called the eAxle, the compact, lightweight unit is comprised of an electric motor, associated electronics, and transmission.
Basically, it would allow an automaker to easily and cheaply convert a vehicle to electric drive, or include it as part of a gas/electric hybrid offering. Outfitted with an eAxle in the rear, a car could actually become two wholly distinct vehicles — a conventional front-drive, gas-powered vehicle as well as a rear-drive battery electric vehicle. A 201 horsepower eAxle apparently weighs less than 200 pounds installed, and Bosch claims it can downsize and upsize the unit to deliver between 60 and 400 horses.
Intriguing. After reading about it last year, I entertained fantasies of switching off my car’s ICE while stuck in traffic and going gas-free rear-drive, then switching back while on the highway. Or maybe I could turn my lowly economy car into a gas/electric all-wheel-drive monster.
How would you put the eAxle to work?
With its so-called “start-up powertrain,” Bosch claims the all-in-one design kept wiring and cooling hardware to a minimum, thus further reducing size and cost. The supplier hopes automakers take note when the eAxle enters mass production next year. It could be just the thing for a car company looking for a quick and easy way to add electric propulsion to their stable.
Bosch’s technology soon drew interest from startup long-haul truck maker Nikola Motor Company, which hopes to put a fleet of hydrogen/electric semis on the road by 2021. The two companies entered into a partnership last fall to use eAxle technology as the basis of the vehicle’s powertrain. (Luckily, the unit is scalable to up to 4,425 lb-ft of torque.)
It remains to be seen whether Bosch’s creation generates much interest from conventional automakers. However, as this a hypothetical exercise, we’d like to know how you’d use it. What vehicle out there today (or maybe tomorrow) could use a high-torque electric motor powering its front or rear wheels? And which model(s) stand to benefit most from a dual-propulsion system, providing drivers with two distinct driving experiences while eliminating range anxiety?
It’s up to you. Sound off in the comments.