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Novel, lightweight designs cut vehicle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Novel, lightweight designs cut vehicle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions Developing components, modules and systems that help to reduce vehicle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are important areas of activity for the automotive industry.

One key area in which developers are currently focusing their efforts is in the optimisation of vehicle drive systems in order to reduce the overall weight of vehicles. Indeed, lightweight vehicle designs are quickly becoming fundamental to future sustainable mobility, not only for conventional drive systems, but also for electric vehicle concepts.

As a Tier Two supplier to the automotive industry, Schaeffler is also focusing its efforts on developing new, innovative lightweight technologies as a key element in sustainable strategies for reducing CO2 emissions.

Shift mass

Reductions in weight and design space can be achieved using shift masses, while simultaneously enabling improvements in driver handling and comfort. Conventional shift masses comprise a steel component with a relatively high mass. These generate mass inertia, which balances out force peaks and vibrations that occur during gearshift operations.

Here, Schaeffler offers two optimised mass solutions. The mass of Schaeffler's i_ shift mass module has been reduced by up to 70 per cent compared to conventional components. However, the lower inertia level of the i_ shift mass module is increased using a gearbox. At the core of the gearshift module is a two-stage planetary gearbox that enables very high ratios. A slipping clutch reduces the load on the plastic gear teeth during overloading, which helps to ensure a long operating life.

Schaeffler's lightweight shift mass also utilises a different approach to more conventional shift masses, which improves the distribution of weight. Fitting the actual mass on the outer end of the lightweight carrier ensures optimum utilisation of the lever action provided. The lightweight carrier is made of aluminum or plastic combined with a steel gearshift lever for transmitting the gearshift forces.

Selector hubs in transmissions

With its new selector hub made from sheet metal, Schaeffler can now facilitate reductions in weight of up to 25 per cent compared to conventional solid sintered metal versions. The new two-part design comprises geometrically compatible sheet metal half shells, which, after the design optimisation process, can transmit higher torques than sintered components.

Hybrid design gearshift forks

In manual transmissions, intelligent use of mixed designs is key to opening up further potential efficiency improvements. For example, Schaeffler's new hybrid gearshift forks with aluminium bodies can replace the more traditional, conventional steel gearshift forks. The striker jaw is a high precision sheet metal blanked component. During the assembly process, the striker jaw is precisely aligned with the screw mounting axis and joined to the gearshift fork, compensating for single component tolerances. During the manufacturing process for Schaeffler's hybrid gearshift forks, unlike conventional aluminium gearshift forks, costly recasting or complex reworking are not necessary. This mixed design not only reduces the weight of Schaeffler's hybrid gearshift forks compared to conventional systems, but also makes them more compact, which in turn, reduces the design space required.

This simplified assembly process enables the hybrid design to be manufactured anywhere in the world. These hybrid gearshift forks are already in volume production with one customer, with more volume production applications set to follow.

"Schaeffler's new lightweight concepts enable reductions in weight of up to 1.2 kg for transmissions," explains Pascal Kohtes, product developer at Schaeffler. "Often, lightweight designs not only have a positive effect on the components themselves, but also initiate significant positive secondary effects on the vehicle as a whole. These range from advantages in driving dynamics and weight reductions, to cutting fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Lightweight designs are therefore a specialist area with a strategic focus that will dominate mobility in the future."

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