Dana tandem axle transforms to 6×2 configuration at highway speeds

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Dana revealed at the Mid-America Trucking Show, a new dual range disconnect concept tandem axle that disconnects the inter-axle shaft at highway speeds to provide greater efficiency.

The AdvanTek Dual Range Disconnect was designed for Class 8 linehaul applications utilizing downspeeding. It provides the traction of a 6×4 configuration but the efficiency at highway speeds of a 6×2. Dana is claiming the new axle can provide a 2-5% fuel economy improvement over conventional 40k tandem axles paired with overdrive transmissions.

At startup, on grades and at low speeds or while backing, the Spicer AdvanTek Dual Range Disconnect allows the tandem axle to operate as a 6×4 with a traditional starting ratio. As the truck reaches highway speeds, an ECU in the axle causes the inter-axle shaft to disconnect from the power divider, allowing the axle to operate in a more efficient 6×2 mode. It also shifts the forward axle to a faster ratio that enables the engine speed to decrease to as low as 900 rpm for highway cruise operation.

Spicer AdvanTEK Dual Range Disconnect

Dana says this allows for faster acceleration to highway speeds. It also reduces drivetrain losses in the inter-axle power divider, inter-axle shaft and rear drive axle gearing, improving fuel economy.

The configuration would also enable the use of fewer gears in the transmission and would eliminate the need for larger engine mounts and frame rails while improving launchability, gradeability, driveability and low-speed maneuverability Dana claims.

A prototype of the system has been in testing for the past 2.5 years, Dana announced. It will begin field tests within OE chassis this year.

“New fuel economy regulations for linehaul trucks are on the immediate horizon, and truck manufacturers are already addressing the challenge of reducing fuel consumption beyond the levels that can be achieved through today’s conventional powertrain systems,” said Mark Wallace, executive vice-president of Dana and group president of Dana On-Highway Driveline Technologies. “Our advanced Spicer AdvanTek Dual Range Disconnect concept enables truck manufacturers to achieve substantial gains in fuel economy with a system that still performs dependably in adverse driving conditions.”

Also new from Dana is a family of single-reduction drive axles. The axles are lighter weight than others in the market and feature a full range of ratios and ratings, the company announced.

They are based on Dana’s AdvanTek platform.

“Dana leads the market with a full range of driveline solutions that help fleet owners maximize the return on their investment by improving fuel efficiency and reducing maintenance requirements,” said Wallace. “The Spicer AdvanTek 40 axle has established new benchmarks in efficiency for high-torque, fast-ratio 6×4 tandems, and these new single-reduction drive axles incorporating AdvanTek technology will provide comparable breakthroughs in performance for 6×2 and 4×2 vehicles.”

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James Menzies is editorial director of Today's Trucking and TruckNews.com. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 24 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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