New EV-specific bearings to reduce losses

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Drivetrain developer Schaeffler has announced two new bearing products designed specifically for electric vehicles: the TriFinity triple-row wheel bearing and a high-efficiency ball bearing with centrifugal disc.

“Innovative bearing technologies are a core part of our product DNA and underpin the success of our Automotive Technologies division,” said Matthias Zink, CEO of Automotive Technologies at Schaeffler. “Schaeffler is looking to fit its efficient and high-precision bearing solutions in electrified powertrains and chassis systems, as well as conventional powertrains, to further enhance these systems and make them more sustainable.”

To help reduce development times for its custom solutions, Schaeffler established a new bearings business division within its Automotive Technologies division at the start of this year. “E-mobility represents a major opportunity for our bearings business,” noted Dr Dieter Eireiner, the head of the new business division. “We are expecting strong growth over the next few years, with major sales potential particularly for ball, cylindrical roller and tapered roller bearings. We are already involved in a number of promising development projects with big-name vehicle manufacturers. Innovative bearing technologies are also very important for lightweight and heavy commercial vehicles, because they significantly increase vehicle range. Working with our customers, we intend to take bearings to a whole new level.”

Schaeffler’s TriFinity is a triple-row wheel bearing designed for use in electrified powertrains. It is no bigger than standard two-row ball bearings but can transfer greater axle loads while also offering a significantly longer service life and improved rigidity. Moreover, this ball bearing design provides an alternative to preloaded tapered roller bearing units. Switching from tapered rollers to balls leads to significant improvements in frictional torque and rigidity, resulting in a claimed 0.7% reduction in electricity consumption per vehicle in FTP-75 test cycles.

The combination of the TriFinity with Schaeffler’s face spline technology allows downsizing solutions in the form of wheel bearing units with smaller diameters, and hence reduced bearing and seal friction, optimized bearing weight and a smaller carbon footprint. For the same dimensions, Schaeffler says the clearance-free face spline technology reduces bearing weight while enabling the component to transmit up to 50% more drive torque. It also makes the bearing easier to mount and reduces noise emissions in electric vehicles.

The company’s second new product – a high-efficiency ball bearing with centrifugal disc – is a high-performance, friction-optimized bearing developed specifically for electromobility applications. It combines the benefits of open-bearing and sealed-bearing designs. With 0.3Nm less friction and CO2 emission reductions of about 0.1/km per bearing, the high-efficiency ball bearing with centrifugal disc is a smart yet simple solution that the company claims has a major impact on overall performance. Furthermore, it has 10 times the service life of an open bearing, representing a significant reduction in costs.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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