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DRIVE-AXLE CONCEPT

Posted: August 1, 2014

Dana Corporation’s Commercial Vehicle Systems group is demonstrating a conceptual drive-axle system on its popular Dana Technology Truck to garner industry feedback on a configuration that’s aimed at maximum fuel economy.

With many new efficiency improvements and weight-saving design features, the system consists of the new Dana Spicer S21-170DE high-entry single-drive axle and the company’s R21BS reconfigurable tag axle. A patent is pending.

The Dana Technology vehicle is also fitted with a prototype Eaton Fuller UltraShift fully-automated transmission with an experimental fuel-saving calibration in the software.

Leo Wenstrup, Dana’s senior product manager for drive-axle systems, says the 6×2 drive and tag combination eliminates the extra weight and complexity of a traditional 6×4 tandem and generates a 200-lb-plus installed weight saving when compared to a traditional 40,000-lb tandem. The use of high efficiency, wide-based single tires can save another 400 lb.

“To address the issue of traction deficiency historically associated with 6×2 vehicles, the air bags of the tag axle are exhausted when the differential lock is engaged. This temporarily shifts all the weight to the driven axle at low speed, which gives the same traction as a traditional tandem axle,” Wenstrup adds.

Efficiency improvements are achieved by eliminating energy losses associated with inter-axle drivelines and rear-axle assemblies. Saying goodbye to the inter-axle driveline also reduces maintenance concerns and avoids damaging driveline-related vibrations.

Dana plans to offer a kit to convert the 6×2 configuration to a conventional tandem to increase vehicle resale value and offer flexibility for a variety of second-owner applications. At time of resale, the selling dealer would order a conversion kit from Dana including all the necessary parts.

The conversion will result in a Super 40 D40-170 tandem axle, targeted at the premium owner-operator market or other vocations. The price of the conversion kit would be less than the increase in market value between a 6×2 and 6×4 tractor with a Super 40 tandem.

The company is also planning a convertible transmission package that would transform the Eaton Fuller 13-speed from a fuel-economy calibration to a high-performance automated transmission.

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