American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) has announced an ‘industry-first’ disconnecting AWD system, which is fitted to the 2014 Jeep Cherokee. The system’s primary aim is to offer the benefits of a conventional all wheel drive system, whilst not intruding on economy or emissions readings.
“Traditionally, when adding all wheel drive capability to a vehicle, it results in an automatic one to three mile per gallon fuel economy penalty,” said Philip R. Guys, AAM vice president, product engineering. “We set out to find a solution to offset this, and that is exactly what our EcoTrac Disconnecting all wheel drive does.”
EcoTrac works by disconnecting the all wheel drive system at the power transfer unit (PTU) and the rear drive module (RDM) allowing large portions of the driveline to discontinue rotating while in front-wheel drive. These components include both the PTU and RDM hypoid gear sets, the bearings associated with the gear sets, and the driveshaft. The system works via manual driver input, or when environmental and dynamic events such as lower temperatures, rain detection and changes in slope occur. Upon receiving the signal from the AAM electronic control unit to engage all wheel drive mode, EcoTrac engages all-wheel drive seamlessly without noticeable shifting to the driver.