Right now, the hottest thing in electrification is pickup trucks. Most of the early examples seem to be using purpose-built platforms and drivetrains to meet the challenge, such as with the GMC Hummer EV and its fully independent suspension. But a new product from Magna may make it easier to electrify even more truck platforms than if every manufacturer was developing specialty trucks.
Magna calls it the eBeam, and it's a solid axle with either one or two electric motors positioned in the middle. And that's really about the extent of the design. But it's important because this electrified axle is designed to bolt right where an old rear axle for an internal combustion powertrain would go. It can work with existing truck frames and suspension systems. So you could hypothetically create a fully electric version of an existing truck quickly and easily. Not only that, but the live axle would maintain the off-road articulation that many truck fans appreciate, plus it's a simple and rugged design.
There will be a variety of eBeam models available with different sizes and configurations that can be scaled for truck type and volume. It can use a single motor and single-speed transmission, a single motor with two-speed transmission, or dual motors, which would also allow for torque vectoring. Power output ranges from 161 horsepower to 335. Magna also notes that it can help develop and provide an electric motor for the front wheels and axles for four-wheel-drive applications. This would mainly leave automakers with battery placement to sort out.
Magna hasn't said if any automakers have decided to use the eBeam, and similarly no automakers have said anything about working with Magna. We did notice that the electric Ford F-150 one of our spy photographers caught recently has a rear axle design that doesn't look massive different to this, and Magna has worked with Ford before in developing the brand's trailer steer system. Then again, they're grainy photos, so we may be missing some important differences. And any similarities could be completely coincidental. Regardless, we think the potential of easily adapted electric axles for more rapid fleet electrification is great.
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