By Steve Hanley
Canadian company Inmotive* has announced the creation of Ingear, a two-speed transmission for electric cars that is inexpensive, reliable, and can help extend the range of an EV by up to 15%. Most electric cars today — the Porsche Taycan is an exception — do not have a transmission. For low-speed jaunts around town, they don’t need one. But for highway driving, having an extra gear can allow the electric drivetrain to operate more efficiently. Higher efficiency means the car can use a smaller, lighter battery, which can lower the purchase price of the car significantly.
An internal combustion engine and transmission may have over 1,000 parts: gears, cams, pistons, valves, crankshafts, and camshafts, all of them whizzing about 5,000 times a minute or more. Many cars and trucks today have 8, 9, or 10 speed automatic transmissions, which means there are lots of expensive things that can go wrong. No wonder they are so expensive to repair!
A typical electric motor has just three moving parts, and most EVs have no multispeed transmission at all. There is the motor, a transfer case, and a differential — the device that allows the one wheel to turn faster than the other when navigating turns. That’s it. If there is no multispeed transmission, that means the manufacturer has to make a compromise when it comes to choosing the gear ratio for the drivetrain. If it is too low, acceleration will be great, but top speed will suffer. If it is too high, acceleration will suffer, but top speed will be great. Adding a simple two-speed transmission can improve acceleration and raise top speed. It can also make the entire drivetrain more efficient at all speeds. How does the Ingear transmission work? Check out the video below:
Inmotive says it recently completed extensive pre-production testing of the Ingear, has integrated it into a demonstration vehicle, and that it is ready for full market implementation. Test units are available to qualified OEMs. “This next generation transmission offers an entirely new way of looking at multi-speed transmissions for electric vehicles and extends significant benefits to a wide range of other market segments as well,” says Paul Bottero, CEO of Inmotive. “It is the first two-speed transmission of its kind to be ready for global market adoption.”
The company says its Ingear two-speed transmission provides continuous torque to the wheels, even while shifting. “We’ve found that today’s automatic transmissions fall short of what the EV industry needs,” says Bottero. “With an efficient design and substantial cost savings to the OEM, we believe the Ingear transmission checks all of the boxes that OEMs have been looking for and will help support widespread adoption of EVs.”
The Ingear unit wraps around the differential taking up very little extra space compared to the single speed transmission used in most electric vehicles. Its incremental cost is less than $150 but can save manufacturers as much as $1,500 per vehicle because automakers can use a smaller battery. When in high gear, it extends the range of a typical vehicle by as much as 15% by optimizing motor efficiency and reducing parasitic losses. It also improves towing, hill climbing, and top speed.
The Ingear is fully scalable to meet the needs of larger, heavier vehicles. While initial development has focused on the passenger car market, the technology can be adapted for use in commercial, off-highway, and fuel cell powered vehicles. Inmotive currently has development contracts with two global OEMs and is in discussion with several others. The Ingear two-speed transmission brings added flexibility to electric vehicle drivetrains while improving the driving experience for EV owners. Look for it to find its way into production vehicles very soon.
All images provided by Inmotive.
*This post is supported by Inmotive.