GKN Driveline's Torque Technology Group is introducing a new power transfer unit, or PTU, for all-wheel-drives in North America and Japan it says is lighter and stronger than previous designs cutting noise, vibration and harshness.
Redditch-based Driveline, which employs 21,000 at 40 sites in 30 countries, said the unit is the result of a 212-year development with DaimlerChrysler and Mitsubishi.
In America, the unit will be available on three new 2007-model DaimlerChryslers and will be made at a factory in Bowling Green, Ohio.
The company recently completed a multi-million-dollar renovation of the plant to prepare for production launch and optimize lean manufacturing. There are plans to add a second shift to the plant's PTU assembly line early next year.
Driveline began production of the new PTU last September at a plant in Nagoya, Japan.
"This is a significant product launch," Graeme Walford, managing director of the Torque Technology Group," said. "Our new PTU is a significantly improved product compared to previous designs."
An integral part of all-wheel-drive vehicles, the PTU transfers engine torque (power) to the rear wheels to improve traction under snowy, icy or wet conditions.
Engineers used state-of-the-art "face-hobbing" - a method for cutting hypoid drive gears - to increase the PTU's power and reduce costs, Mr Walford said. The new design provides customers with lighter, more powerful units.
"The launch of our PTU has been truly a global effort with collaboration among engineering, business development, purchasing and manufacturing
departments in Japan and North America. It demonstrates our ability to develop innovative power transfer products that are stronger, lighter and smaller."
Driveline, with sites at Redditch, Great Barr, Erdington and Walsall, reported 2005 sales £2 billion in 2005.