technology

Suzuki is working on a two-speed transmission for its electric vehicles

On January 11, 2023, Suzuki finally unveiled the eVX, a concept car with the appearance of an SUV foreshadowing “the world’s first 100% electric vehicle” from the Japanese manufacturer.

Electrifying its range was not easy for a “small” brand such as Suzuki, which does not have as many resources as the big manufacturers. However, the Japanese managed to pull out of the game with vehicles mild hybrid (48 V) followed by traditional hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

It is also thanks to a commercial partnership initiated in October 2016 with Toyota that Suzuki was able to carry out its technological transformation, thus making it possible to reduce the development time of these new technologies, but above all a sharing of costs between the two companies. .

Nevertheless, the development of an electric vehicle such as the eVX requires enormous research efforts which weigh financially on the Japanese company, hence the need for technological partnerships.

inmotive ingear suzuki transmission 2-speed automatic gearbox

The latest concerns Inmotive, the Canadian company behind Ingear, a two-speed transmission for electric vehicles. According to Inmotive, this technology “would increase EV range by up to 15% and improve acceleration by up to 15%”, at a reasonable cost, but not mentioned. As for the weight of this transmission, it would be negligible according to the manufacturer.

The next electric vehicles from Suzuki will be equipped with this transmission. On the other hand, the manufacturer did not specify whether the eVX will be equipped with this new transmission.

A precedent with the Porsche Taycan

Today, the entire fleet of electric vehicles is equipped with a simple reduction gear, but the addition of a multi-speed transmission could improve efficiency and performance. In any case, this is the path chosen by Porsche (Taycan), Audi (e-tron GT) and Rimac (Concept_One, Concept_Two and Nevera). Thus, the two German manufacturers have installed a two-speed automatic gearbox, coupled to the rear engine, while the front one is associated with a reduction gear. Second gear engages as soon as 150 km/h is exceeded.

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As for Croatian Rimac, which owns Bugatti, its hypercars have one gearbox per engine. Thus, their two rear engines are each coupled to a two-speed gearbox, while their two front engines are associated with single-speed gearboxes.

The typical torque and power curves of an electric car motor.

The typical torque and power curves of an electric car motor.

© Geotab Inc.

This technological bias does not only have good sides. Installing a gearbox adds complexity, the benefit of which is limited. A weight gain is inevitable and the additional maintenance, as well as the cost of additional parts, do not necessarily seem justified. It will therefore be interesting to see how the Ingear transmission will behave on a production electric vehicle.

CVT transmission at Bosch

The multi-speed transmission dedicated to electric seems to be of more and more interest to players in the sector, like Bosch. The German equipment manufacturer would like to equip electric cars with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). In July 2021, the drafting of Digital reported that Bosch had developed a transmission dubbed CVT4EV. Tested on a Volkswagen e-Golf, it granted efficiency gains of around 4%.

bosch CVT4EV transmission volkswagen eGolf

The equipment manufacturer explained that at low speed, the transmission adopts a shorter ratio in order to improve acceleration. The torque gain also contributes to optimizing towing and crossing performance. At high speeds, a longer ratio increases top speed and improves efficiency, particularly at steady speeds.

This CVT4EV box would be suitable for medium-sized cars, sports cars, or even light electric utilities.

It remains to be seen whether other general car manufacturers will follow Suzuki’s example by equipping their electric vehicles with gearboxes.

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