The eAxle, a core component of electric vehicles [5 minute read]

Jan.20, 2023

The eAxle, a core component of electric vehicles  [5 minute read]

Thee Axle runs on electric power, is a core component of electric vehicles, and is now attracting attention as a drive unit that could help replace the conventional gasoline-powered engine and transmission. This issue of “AI Think” answers the question, “What is an eAxle?” and also  explains development of other Aisin products for an electrified world..

What is an eAxle?

An eAxle is a drive unit that integrates into an axle structure the main components necessary to propel a vehicle using an electric motor as the main power source, such as a battery electric vehicle (BEV). eAxle mainly consists of a gearbox, a motor and an inverter.

The integration of the key components in one structure makes the entire unit smaller and lighter, generating various benefits such as space saving, lower power consumption, and lower cost.

Structure of an eAxle

eAxle is an important component that could help replace the conventional gasoline-powered engine and transmission

Features of an eAxle

The eAxle is characterized by both its compactness and power. Most people are surprised at how compact an eAxle is, compared to the conventional engine and transmission drive system. Further, eAxle is less than half the size of the conventional engine and transmission and is capable of producing the same amount of power.

Features of an eAxle

Smaller and lighter components allow the vehicle to run longer with less energy and make better use of available space. Small and powerful eAxle brings many benefits also to vehicle users.

Mountable in various types of electric vehicles

eAxle is mainly installed in vehicles powered by motors, such as BEVs and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), but it can also be used in vehicles powered by both an engine and electric motor, such as hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

Layout of eAxle for EVs and FCVs

In front-wheel drive BEVs and FCEVs, the eAxle is mounted at the front of the vehicle. By adding an eAxle at the rear in addition to the front, the vehicle can be shifted into four-wheel drive (4WD).

Layout of eAxle for HVs and PHVs

Furthermore, HEVs and PHEVs can be shifted into four-wheel drive by installing an eAxle in the rear in combination with the engine and hybrid transmission mounted in the front. By expanding the lineup of eAxles, Aisin will meet the needs of regions where demand for four-wheel drive vehicles is high due to their harsh driving conditions such as on rough or snowy  roads, while also contributing to a comfortable and powerful driving experience.

Aisin’s eAxle lineup

Aisin, the fifth largest Tier One  supplier of automotive parts in the world, was one of the first to develop an eAxle.

Beginning with the installation of Aisin’s electric unit that integrates a gearbox and motor in Toyota’s Crown Majesta EV in 1993, the company has continued to advance the technology over the years.

Aisin  has developed an electric 4WD unit which drives the rear wheels with a gearbox and a motor;this unit has been adopted in Toyota HEVs such as Prius, Noah, and Voxy.

eAxles developed by Aisin have been used in a variety of BEVs and FCEVs since 2020, including the C-HR, IZOA, MIRAI, and LEXUS UX300e. In 2022, an eAxle jointly developed with BluE Nexus* and DENSO was adopted in the Toyota bZ4X and the New Toyota Crown.

Aisin will continue to expand the lineup of eAxles as the industry goes electric

*  BluE Nexus is a joint venture established between Aisin and DENSO in 2019. It specializes in the development, adaptation, and sales of electrification systems and electric drive modules. (At present, Aisin and DENSO have a stake of 45% each, and Toyota Motor Corporation has a stake of 10%.)

Aisin's eAxle lineup

Future eAxle development, future trends

eAxle is attracting attention as a key component of electric vehicles and is expected to be in even higher demand in the future as environmental regulations are tightened around the world to achieve a carbon-neutral society.

However, there are still many  issues that need to be overcome in order to fully promote and enter the electrification of vehicles, such as the development of recharging infrastructure and lower vehicle prices.  But, for some,  the most important question is “how to extend driving range” by efficiently using electricity.

Aisin is accelerating the development of second and third generation eAxles by pursuing higher efficiency and downsizing, with the aim of creating ultra-compact eAxles that enable vehicles to extend their range and run longer on less electricity.

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