Magna’s eBeam axle hopes to turn today’s pickups into electric vehicles



Automakers are looking for many truck electrification solutions that Americans cannot get enough of. When it comes to conventional manufacturers, Ford is probably ahead. Credit for the already available Ford F-150 PowerBoost gasoline-electric hybrid pickup and the upcoming F-150 Elektro. Even Ram’s eTorque “Mild Hybrid” system is a fuel-efficient step in the right direction. Newcomers such as Bollinger, Lordstown, Rivian and now Canoo also want a piece of the pie, but are not dependent on “legacy” truck platforms. For more traditional pickups, such as those already used as work or lifestyle vehicles in your city, Magna offers an interim solution called eBeam.

We are talking about an application for trucks with a traditional ladder frame chassis and an active rear axle. The eBeam is theoretically used directly and uses all original brackets, suspensions, etc. However, there would be no input for the driveshaft as the eBeam is an integrated electric motor axle available in power ranges of 120 and 250 kW. According to Magna, single and twin-engine versions are under development, with the twin-engine version offering torque transmission via the axle. The single-engine version presumably contains a differential that replaces the “pumpkin” of a conventional truck.

What is the benefit of developing, for example, a special skateboard chassis with independent rear suspension, as newer competitors are doing? The answer is traditional trucking capabilities: ride height, payload, towing, etc. that traditional trucks provide. And the way in which the aftermarket (both for private vehicles and, for example, for equipping commercial and recreational vehicles) is connected to conventional truck suspension and chassis systems. It should also be said that there is no need to design or manufacture a special chassis.

A leaf or coil sprung rear axle is a robust, proven and, above all, inexpensive device, which is why light trucks hold onto this device for so long. For normal truck owners, what matters is what the truck can do and what you can do with it. It is a proven solution for fleet operators.

However, fleet operators in particular are always able to reduce running costs. An electrified eBeam rear axle theoretically promises less maintenance, without being very different from similar fleet vehicles in other respects. If the suspension and braking systems remain intact, the towing and payload remain unaffected (despite additional vehicle mass from batteries). Magna claims that mass is the same as a (heavy) active axle, all other things are equal – the rough equivalence is almost certainly due to the heavy use of lightweight aluminum in the eBeam axle.

Those who purchase an eBeam equipped truck (and it should be noted that there are several interested manufacturers according to Magna) will discover the great benefit that this technology serves as a simple transition step to convert more hybrid and battery electric drives into “normal.” “Truck. From a technical standpoint, there are few compromises and some lifestyle or work style adjustments are required to use such a truck as with a traditional live axle setup.

Of course, an eBeam installation is not about how the rear axle is powered. The manufacturer would need to find a place to mount batteries, inverters, cables, etc. Some existing electrified trucks stow them under the back seat or between the frame rails. Likewise, the space that a conventional drive shaft otherwise takes up can certainly be used in an eBeam installation.

It’s not that far for the eBeam. We don’t yet know any manufacturer who has selected the system for a truck. We should note that Magna has already developed electric motor solutions for the front axle, so an electrified full-wheel drive pickup using a traditional chassis and suspension as the standard solution might be possible. Time will tell which automakers may bring this system to a dealer near you.

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