Automotive - 07/12/2018
Several European manufacturers are launching electric SUVs with up to 300 kW power and ranges extending to 400 km. To obtain the required combination of power and compact dimensions, special design solutions are employed, such as electric motors which have the axle running through the motor. This concept can reduce the overall drive unit size, but requires relatively large rotor shaft bearings, which consequently reach high peripheral speeds at 13,000 rpm. Speed reduction is then implemented using compact planetary gears.
This demanding application used ball bearings – a relatively simple bearing design – and with good reason. In contrast to angular contact ball bearings, ball bearings do not need specific pre-tensioning. The cage design of the bearings for the European electric SUV has also been adapted to the specific application conditions, while the contactless and yet extremely efficient seals help to reduce friction and thus contribute to the vehicle’s long range.
Success in the European electric SUV project was aided by NSK’s previous experiences in Japan. As early as 2005, the company began the volume production of high-speed bearings for the hybrid version of the Toyota Harrier/Lexus RX.
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