GKN Driveline

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GKN Automotive is a multinational manufacturer of driveline components, all-wheel drive systems and eDrive systems for the automotive industry. [1] It employs around 27,500 people across 51 manufacturing facilities and 6 technology centres in 20 countries. [2] In 2018, GKN Automotive’s parent company, GKN Ltd, was acquired by Melrose [3] and its automotive business was renamed GKN Automotive. [4] This encompasses both the Driveline and ePowertrain divisions. [5]


GKN Automotive became the world's largest producer of constant-velocity joints (CVJs), which it began manufacturing in the 1960s for early front-wheel drive cars like the original Mini [6] Its other products include sideshafts, propshafts, modular eDrive systems, multi-mode hybrid transmissions for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, torque vectoring systems for electric drivelines and a range of all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive systems. [7]

GKN Automotive
Type Division
Industry Automotive
Headquarters London,
Area served
Products Automotive Components
OwnerMelrose PLC [8]
Number of employees
27,500 (2021)
Parent GKN PLC


The origin of GKN (Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds) goes back to 1759 and the founding of the Dowlais Ironworks by the industrialists Thomas Lewis and Isaac Wilkinson. [9] It has changed shape and direction many times to hold its place in the engineering industry. The company took part in the railway boom in the early 1800s with its production of iron, then steel in the 1860s and, after the First World War, the automotive industry.[ citation needed ]

In 1966 after being advised GKN Steel would be nationalised for the second time GKN bought CVJ market leaders Birfield Industries with its subsidiaries Hardy Spicer and Laycock Engineering with their interests and subsidiaries in Europe, Japan and the United States to save its BRD subsidiary. [10] It was the start of the company's globalization. GKN established a manufacturing presence in China in 1988. At the same time GKN Driveline was investing in and growing its business in India, Brazil and Mexico.[ citation needed ]

(Divisions) Products, Research and Development

CVJ Systems

A CVJ, or constant velocity joint, transfers power from the transmission to the front wheels, allowing articulation and movement for steering and suspension. [11] The three major elements are: inboard and outboard CVJs, including lubrication and sealing systems, and interconnecting shafts. The inboard joint is a plunging joint that allows the effective length of the sideshaft to adjust due to suspension movement. The outboard joint needs to transfer power effectively through a wide range of angles (up to 53 degrees).

AWD Systems

AWD Systems are for all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles. [12] GKN Driveline has unique developments for partial or full AWD vehicles. Within AWD Systems, GKN Driveline offers one, two or three-piece high speed propshafts made from steel, aluminium or composite tubes. Forefront example of this technology is used in the custom made to order by Ford Performance for the Ford Focus RS launched in 2016. [13] It utilizes an intelligent torque vectoring AWD system with rear differentials. This AWD system is also used in various vehicles by GM, Volvo and other car manufacturers. [14] [15]

Trans Axle Solutions

Trans Axle Solutions cover an extensive range of Open Differentials, Limited Slip and Locking Differentials, and advanced products like electronic torque vectoring. [16] The wide range of differentials available is used in passenger cars, Sports car (SUVs) and Light truck.[ citation needed ]


The eAxle drive module is a compact, lightweight Gear with an actively controlled wet clutch for electric motor assisted AWD. The eAxle unit for axle split Hybrid electric vehicle incorporates a proprietary disconnect clutch technology, which facilitates on-demand all-wheel-drive (AWD) use and contributes to the overall all-terrain functionality and fuel efficiency.[ citation needed ]

Electric drive transmissions can transmit up to 300 kW of power, they are available with ratios up to 14:1 and can be matched with E-motors from various suppliers to allow flexible application.

Related Research Articles

Differential (mechanical device)

A differential is a gear train with three shafts that has the property that the rotational speed of one shaft is the average of the speeds of the others, or a fixed multiple of that average.

GKN Ltd is a British multinational automotive and aerospace components business headquartered in Redditch, Worcestershire. It is a long-running business known for many decades as Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds. It can trace its origins back to 1759 and the birth of the Industrial Revolution.

Four-wheel drive Type of drivetrain with four driven wheels

Four-wheel drive, also called 4x4 or 4WD, refers to a two-axled vehicle drivetrain capable of providing torque to all of its wheels simultaneously. It may be full-time or on-demand, and is typically linked via a transfer case providing an additional output drive shaft and, in many instances, additional gear ranges.

Quattro (four-wheel-drive system)

quattro is the sub-brand used by the car brand Audi to indicate that all-wheel drive (AWD) technologies or systems are used on specific models of its Audi automobiles.

Locking differential Forcing two transaxial wheels to spin together

A locking differential is designed to overcome the chief limitation of a standard open differential by essentially "locking" both wheels on an axle together as if on a common shaft. This forces both wheels to turn in unison, regardless of the traction available to either wheel individually.

Constant-velocity joint

Constant-velocity joints allow a drive shaft to transmit power through a variable angle, at constant rotational speed, without an appreciable increase in friction or play. They are mainly used in front wheel drive vehicles. Modern rear wheel drive cars with independent rear suspension typically use CV joints at the ends of the rear axle halfshafts and increasingly use them on the drive shaft.

Drive shaft Mechanical component for transmitting torque and rotation

A drive shaft, driveshaft, driving shaft, tailshaft, propeller shaft, or Cardan shaft is a vehicle component for transmitting mechanical power and torque and rotation, usually used to connect other components of a drivetrain that cannot be connected directly because of distance or the need to allow for relative movement between them.

Hardy Spicer is a brand of automotive transmission or driveline equipment best known for its mechanical constant velocity universal joint originally manufactured in Britain by Hardy employing patents belonging to US-based Spicer Manufacturing. Hardy and Spicer soon became partners. Later Spicer became Dana Holding Corporation.

ZF Friedrichshafen German car parts maker

ZF Friedrichshafen AG, also known as ZF Group, originally Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen, and commonly abbreviated to ZF, is a German car parts maker headquartered in Friedrichshafen, in the south-west German state of Baden-Württemberg.

Viscous coupling unit

A viscous coupling is a mechanical device which transfers torque and rotation by the medium of a viscous fluid.

Torque steer is the unintended influence of engine torque on the steering, especially in front-wheel-drive vehicles. For example, during heavy acceleration, the steering may pull to one side, which may be disturbing to the driver. The effect is manifested either as a tugging sensation in the steering wheel, or a veering of the vehicle from the intended path. Torque steer is directly related to differences in the forces in the contact patches of the left and right drive wheels. The effect becomes more evident when high torques are applied to the drive wheels either because of a high overall reduction ratio between the engine and wheels, high engine torque, or some combination of the two. Torque steer is distinct from steering kickback.

ATTESA is a four-wheel drive system used in some automobiles produced by the Japanese automaker Nissan, including some models under its luxury marque Infiniti.

Super Handling-All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) is a full-time, fully automatic, all-wheel drive traction and handling system combining front-rear torque distribution control with independently regulated torque distribution to the left and right rear wheels to freely distribute the optimum amount of torque to all four wheels in accordance with driving conditions." The system was announced in April 2004, and first introduced in the North American market in the second generation 2005 model year Acura RL, and in Japan as the fourth generation Honda Legend.

Front-engine, four-wheel-drive layout

In automotive design, an F4, or front-engine, four-wheel drive (4WD) layout places the internal combustion engine at the front of the vehicle and drives all four roadwheels. This layout is typically chosen for better control on many surfaces, and is an important part of rally racing, as well as off-road driving. In terms of racing purposes, whether it be on-road or off-road, can be described as followed, "A team that pursues the Weak LS4WD architecture will minimize the development cost of the front-wheel drive system at the expense of having a larger rear powertrain. The Weak architecture produces a vehicle with a large powersplit between the front and rear powertrains, while the Strong architecture recommends a vehicle with more similar power and torque requirements for the front and rear."

Range Rover Evoque Motor vehicle

The Land Rover Range Rover Evoque is a series of subcompact luxury crossover SUVs produced by the British manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover, a subsidiary of Tata Motors, under their Land Rover marque. The original Evoque was a development of the Land Rover LRX concept vehicle, which was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in January 2008. The first generation Evoque was produced from July 2011 until 2018 in three- and five-door versions, with both two-wheel and four-wheel drive. The second generation car started production in 2018 by Range Rover.

Torque vectoring is a technology employed in automobile differentials that has the ability to vary the torque to each half-shaft with an electronic system. This method of power transfer has recently become popular in all-wheel drive vehicles. Some newer front-wheel drive vehicles also have a basic torque vectoring differential. As technology in the automotive industry improves, more vehicles are equipped with torque vectoring differentials. This allows for the wheels to grip the road for better launch and handling.

Drivetrain Group of components that deliver power to the driving wheels

The drivetrain, also frequently spelled as drive train, or sometimes drive-train, is the group of components of a motor vehicle that deliver power to the driving wheels. This excludes the engine or motor that generates the power. In contrast, the powertrain is considered to include both the engine and/or motor(s), as well as the drivetrain.

The Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is a full-time four-wheel drive system developed by a Japanese automobile manufacturer Subaru. The SAWD system consists of a longitudinally mounted boxer engine coupled to a symmetrical drivetrain with equal length half-axles. The combination of the symmetrical layout with a flat engine and a transmission balanced over the front axle provides optimum weight distribution with low center of gravity, improving the steering characteristics of the vehicle. Ever since 1966, most of the Subaru models sold in the international market are equipped with the SAWD system by default, with the rear wheel drive BRZ and kei cars as the exceptions.

All-wheel drive

An all-wheel drive vehicle is one with a powertrain capable of providing power to all its wheels, whether full-time or on-demand.

Cadillac XT5 Motor vehicle

The Cadillac XT5 is a compact luxury / D-segment crossover SUV manufactured by General Motors. It was introduced at both the Dubai Motor Show and LA Auto Show in November 2015. The XT5 replaced the Cadillac SRX crossover when it was launched in spring 2016. It is the second model to use Cadillac's new alphanumeric naming scheme and the first in the Crossover Touring (XT) series. The XT5 is manufactured at GM's Spring Hill Manufacturing plant. The Chinese-market XT5 is manufactured in Shanghai by SAIC-GM.


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  2. "GKN Automotive - Company". GKN. Retrieved 2021-06-15.
  3. "GKN Automotive Limited - MarkLines Automotive Industry Portal". www.marklines.com. Retrieved 2021-06-15.
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  5. "GKN Automotive - Company". GKN. Retrieved 2021-06-15.
  6. "Confucius rules at GKN". The Economist. 14 September 2000. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
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  8. https://www.melroseplc.net/.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. Andrew Lorenz, "GKN. The Making of a Business 1759-2009", 2009
  10. Andrew Lorenz, GKN, the making of a Business, Wiley UK, 2009 ISBN   9780470749531
  11. "GKN Driveline CVJ Overview". GKN plc. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  12. "GKN Driveline AWD Overview". GKN plc. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  13. "The 2016 Ford Focus RS Gets an Advanced Torque-Vectoring AWD System". Automobile magazine. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  14. "GKN: Drifting, from AWD to eAWD". The Virtual Driver. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  15. "GM seeks a market beyond the snow belt for awd models". Automotive News. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  16. "GKN Driveline Trans Axle Overview". GKN plc. Retrieved 25 April 2014.