2019 ACT Expo: Allison Transmission Embraces Electrification

April 25, 2019 by Susan Carpenter, @CarpenterWheels

Allison Transmission, the world’s largest maker of automatic transmissions for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, is committed to advancing the electrification side of its business.

That’s why it announced the acquisition of two companies, the introduction of two new products as well as two new strategic partnerships at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in Long Beach, Calif., on Wednesday.

Allison acquired Vantage Power – a London-based company that specializes in electrified propulsion and connected vehicle technologies for medium- and heavy-duty truck manufacturers.

2 ACQUISITIONS

The Indianapolis-based manufacturer also acquired the electric vehicle systems division of AxleTech, a Troy, Mich., company that designs, engineers and manufactures powertrains for on- and off-highway heavy-duty commercial vehicles.

“Each of these acquisitions align with Allison’s position as a leading innovator in propulsion technology,” said David Graziosi, president and chief executive of Allison Transmission.

“Several years ago, (AxleTech) established our Electric Vehicle Systems group to develop electric vehicle solutions for on- and off-highway applications as a complement to our 100-year-old off-highway heritage,” said Bill Gryzenia, AxleTech’s chief executive officer.

AXE all-electric axle system from Allison Transmission

One of the two new electric axle systems Allison displayed at the ACT Expo: the AXE series for medium- and heavy-duty commercial trucks. (Photo: Allison Transmission)

Allison Transmission will help AxleTech “enter the next phase of development and commercialization,” Gryzenia said.
These electric-drive technology investments are ones that Allison needed to make, said Alexander Potter, an analyst with Piper Jaffray & Co.

“Vehicle manufacturers and fleets are clamoring for EV prototypes, and Allison cannot afford to sit on the sidelines.” Potter said. “It’s smart for Allison to increase its focus on axle-related mergers and acquisitions, along with building expertise in battery management, system design and other EV-related fields.”

TWO NEW ELECTRIC AXLE SYSTEMS

Transmission also showed off two new electric axle systems: the AXE series for medium- and heavy-duty commercial trucks and the ABE series for transit buses.

Allison Transmission ABE electric transmission

Allison’s ABE electric transmission, designed for buses. (Photo: Allison Transmission)

The AXE is a fully integrated electric powertrain system that’s designed to fit inside a standard frame along the truck’s axles. It features electric motors, a two-speed gearbox, oil coolers and pumps. It is available in both single- and dual-motor options. The bolt-in system is intended to minimize the integration complexity manufacturers face when transitioning to electric propulsion.

PARTNERSHIP WITH PETERBILT

Allison also announced a partnership with Peterbilt, which has already integrated the AXE into its trucks.

The ABE series is the first e-axle advanced ultra-low-floor electric-bus powertrain bolt-in system in the market, according to Allison. It has dual electric motors, a single- or multi-speed gearbox, oil coolers, pumps and power electronics. The ABE integrates into almost every transit bus configuration, from low- and ultra-low-floor models to double deckers, articulated models and three-door vehicles. It replaces the entire traditional powertrain within the existing frame.

In combination with its ABE series announcement, Allison also said it had formed a strategic alliance with bus maker Alexander Dennis.

Allison Transmission was founded following the 1915 win of the Indianapolis 500 by race car owner James Allison. In the years since, the company has built transmissions for a range of vehicles, including U.S. Army Abrams Battle Tanks, buses and motor homes.

Alan Adler April 24, 2019
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