On January 11, 2023, Suzuki finally unveiled the eVX, a concept car with the appearance of a looming SUV. “the world’s first 100% electric vehicle” from a Japanese manufacturer.
Electrifying its range has not been easy for a “small” brand like Suzuki, which does not have as many resources as the big manufacturers. However, the Japanese managed to get 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 started in October 2016 with Toyota that Suzuki has been able to innovate its technology, thus making it possible to reduce the development time of these new technologies, but above all sharing of costs between the two companies ..
However, developing an electric vehicle like the eVX requires a massive research effort that weighs heavily on the Japanese company’s finances, hence the need for technological partnerships.
The latest concern is Inmotive, the Canadian company behind Ingear, a two-speed transmission for electric vehicles. According to Inmotive, this technology “increases EV range by up to 15% and improves acceleration by up to 15%”, at a reasonable cost, but not mentioned. As for the weight of this delivery, it will be negligible according to the manufacturer.
The next electric cars 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 can 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). So, the two German manufacturers have installed a two-speed automatic gearbox, which is integrated with the rear engine, while the front is associated with a reduction gear. Second gear engages as soon as 150 km/h is exceeded.
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 linked to single-speed gearboxes.
This technological bias does not only have its good sides. Installing a gearbox adds complexity, its benefit is limited. Weight gain is inevitable and additional maintenance, as well as the cost of additional parts, is by no means justified. It will therefore be interesting to see how the Ingear transmission will behave in a production electric vehicle.
Bosch CVT transmission
The electric-oriented multi-speed transmission seems to be of greater interest to players in the sector, such as Bosch. The German equipment manufacturer wants to equip electric vehicles with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). In July 2021, the drafting of Digital it is reported that Bosch has developed a transmission called the CVT4EV. Tested on a Volkswagen e-Golf, it provided efficiency gains of around 4%.
The equipment manufacturer explains that at low speeds, the transmission uses a shorter ratio to improve acceleration. The torque gain also helps optimize towing and crossing performance. At high speeds, a longer ratio increases top speed and improves efficiency, especially at constant speed.
This CVT4EV box will 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.