Xtrac’s dedicated EV transmission system highlights benefits of UK automotive and motorsport industry collaboration

World renowned motorsport transmission specialist Xtrac, which is fully engaged with the UK government’s agenda on advanced propulsion systems, will further showcase its brand-new family of electric vehicle gearboxes at two major international automotive industry events this week.

Developed initially for that rarefied segment of the global car market focused on the development of ultra-high performance and luxury road vehicles, where new technology is generally first introduced, Xtrac’s project P1227 Integrated Lightweight Electric Vehicle (ILEV) transmission system will be presented simultaneously in the UK at the annual Cenex LCV2016 conference held at Millbrook in Bedfordshire, and in the USA at the Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo in Novi, Michigan.

Xtrac’s ILEV transmission system only recently made its debut at the international Driving Future Motorsport Business Growth Conference. Arranged by the Motorsport Industry Association (the MIA), this event took place at the Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s headquarters at Silverstone on the eve of the British Grand Prix and was supported by the UKTI ‘Innovation is Great’ campaign.

“With the increased trend towards vehicle electrification and hybridisation, you need innovative lightweight transmission systems designed specifically for these new methods of vehicle propulsion to suit their unique operating characteristics,” says James Setter, head of Xtrac’s automotive and engineering business unit, who goes on to add that Xtrac“has received significant interest in the transmission system from a number of OEMs and Tier Ones leading to a rising order book for the transmission.”

The P1227 transmission system, which offers a range of installation possibilities including front-wheel drive, rear wheel drive and four-wheel drive configuration, will be detailed in two presentations. Setter says that Xtrac focused significantly on the integration of the transmission with numerous proprietary electric motor-generators (traction motors) and their control systems.

“Close discussion with electric motor suppliers including YASA, GKN and BorgWarner have been a key part of the ILEV’s design and development, and the optimised integration of the electric motor and the transmission as a single unit has led to significant weight and packaging benefits,” says Setter. The new transmission system also achieves a significant 20 per cent reduction in mass compared with its previous P1092 torque vectoring transmission.

Xtrac’s managing director, Adrian Moore, who represents the UK motorsport industry on the technology group of the UK Automotive Council, will discuss how the P1227 transmission system evolved from collaborative development programmes, such as the REEVolution project, which was part funded by the UK’s innovation agency Innovate UK, and in 2010 led to the development of the ground-breaking Lotus Evora 414E and Infiniti EMERG-E – both of which used the previous generation P1092 transmission – as well as the Jaguar XJ-e plug-in hybrid.

Importantly, the REEVolution programme brought together different organisations, including Axeon Technologies, Evo Electric (now part of GKN) and Xtrac, with carmakers Jaguar Land Rover, Lotus and Nissan, to work on next-generation components for range extender and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. More recently, Xtrac has been engaging with the UK’s £1 billion automotive technology initiative steered by the Advanced Propulsion Centre based in London and Warwick, which aims to engage in the delivery of new highly efficient low carbon technologies and development of the UK automotive industry supply base.

Moore will discuss the P1227 project when he participates in a seminar entitled ‘Motorsport to Automotive: Crossover Technology and UK Capability’ being held in the Workshop Dome at 14:30 on Wednesday 14 September. Hosted by the Advanced Propulsion Centre, Moore will join other distinguished guests speaking on the value of collaboration between the automotive and motorsport industries, and how this partnership can secure considerable commercial advantage between two world-leading engineering sectors.

Moore’s appearance will be augmented by a second presentation entitled ‘Dedicated Hybrid Transmission as the Integrating Technology in Future Vehicles”, which will be presented by Setter in the Presentation Zone in Hall 2 at 11:00 on Thursday 15 September. This presentation continues the theme first discussed at a seminar entitled ‘Developments in Transmission & Driveline Technology’ organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) in Birmingham in April this year, when Moore first articulated the idea of the transmission as the integrating technology in future vehicles.

James Setter and George Laughton at Driving Future Motorsport Conference 2016

James Setter and George Laughton at Driving Future Motorsport Conference 2016

Xtrac completes 1,000 transmission projects … and recruits its 100th trainee

Moore, who is a Fellow of the IMechE, also makes the point that constant innovation by the company has enabled it to continuously increase its sales revenue and in particular its exports, which have increased year on year from 57 per cent five years ago to 77 per cent today.

“Xtrac’s unique ownership structure, ongoing investment in advanced manufacturing facilities, together with the expertise and experience we’ve gained over the past 30 years in motorsport, where we have completed over 1,000 transmission projects, undoubtedly helps us develop innovative products designed for specific markets,” says Moore. “Project P1227 is a good example illustrating how we can meet the fast evolving needs of the automotive industry to provide society with more advanced and efficient solutions for mobility.”

Moore says that the company’s international presence in 24 global markets means its customers can deal directly with Xtrac anywhere in the world, and that the company also provides opportunities “for the very best people to join a highly dynamic business.” Well known for its award winning apprentice and undergraduate training programmes, this September saw the recruitment of Xtrac’s 100th trainee.

Xtrac’s ILEV family of gearboxes will be displayed as part of the ‘Automotive and Motorsport Enhanced Collaboration’ showcase (stand C104 in Hall 1) at the Cenex show, This heightened technical collaboration between two closely affiliated industries follows the presentation by Tony Harper head of research Jaguar Land Rover at the MIA’s Driving Future Motorsport Business Growth Conference, and positive endorsement by the UK Automotive Council for the significant value that this successful partnership can deliver. The Cenex LCV2016 show runs for two days on 14-15 September.

Simultaneously, in the USA, Xtrac’s project P1227 transmission system will be presented with two P400 series motors on the YASA Motors stand (booth #1246) at the Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo. YASA Motors manufactures a highly differentiated advanced axial flux electric motor and generator, offering significantly higher power and torque density, which is particularly effective where there is limited axial space available. The P400 Series uses advanced materials and innovative construction techniques to provide motors that are not only the smallest and lightest in their class, but provide significantly reduced costs in serial production, especially for customers planning for higher volume production. Xtrac will be represented at the Technology Expo by Jeff Kitchen general manager responsible for Xtrac Inc. – the company’s significant spoke operation based in Indiana and North Carolina. The show runs for three days from 13-15 September.

About Xtrac

Xtrac has become a world-leader in the design and manufacture of transmission products and components, which are used throughout international motorsport and in particular within F1, IndyCar, Touring Car, Rallying, Rally Raid and many forms of sportscar and GT racing, including its major involvement in the World Endurance Championship, Le Mans 24 Hours, Daytona 24 Hour and Sebring 12 Hour races.

Based in Berkshire in the UK, and in Indiana and North Carolina, USA, Xtrac is a major ambassador for the UK’s world-renowned ‘Motorsport Valley’. Almost 80 per cent of its annual sales turnover of vehicle transmission and driveline products – which includes gearboxes, differentials and engine gears – is exported.

On an operational level, Xtrac has incorporated a wide range of programmes that are environmentally friendly, energy efficient and increase recycling. Its modern 90,000 sq. ft. (8,400m2) factory has the latest energy efficient machine tools and lighting systems. It recycles as much aluminium, paper, plastics and steel as possible, as well as cleaning solvents and cooling fluids.

Through its award winning employee benefit trust, Xtrac’s staff own the entire business, which has implemented many initiatives to encourage employee engagement throughout the company including award winning apprentice and undergraduate training programmes.

Xtrac reaches out increasingly to the automotive mainstream and other transport sectors alongside its traditional heartland of the motorsport industry. It is aligned and engaging with the UK government’s agenda on advanced propulsion systems and electric vehicles to expand the company’s traditional boundaries.

For further information, please visit www.xtrac.com.

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James Smyth

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