GKN Driveline

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GKN Driveline
Area served
ProductsAutomotive components
Revenue£2,688 million (2011)[1]
£191 million (2011)[1]
Number of employees
21,200 (2011)
ParentGKN plc

GKN Driveline is a multinational automotive components manufacturer specialising in driveline technologies. A division of GKN plc, it employs around 22,000 people at 56 locations across 22 countries.[2]

GKN Driveline is the world's largest producer of constant-velocity joints (CVJs), which it pioneered for use in automobiles,[3] its other products include sideshafts, propshafts, power transfer units, differentials, AWD couplings, disconnects, electric rear axles, and electric drive transmissions.[4]


The origin of GKN (Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds) goes back to 1759, and the founding of the Dowlais Ironworks by the industrialists Thomas Lewis and Isaac Wilkinson.[5] It has changed shape and direction many times to hold its place in the engineering industry, the company took part in the railway boom in the early 1800s with its production of iron, then steel in the 1860s and, after the First World War, the automotive industry.[citation needed]

In 1966 after being advised GKN Steel would be nationalised for the second time GKN bought CVJ market leaders Birfield Industries with its subsidiaries Hardy Spicer and Laycock Engineering with their interests and subsidiaries in Europe, Japan and the United States to save its BRD subsidiary.[6] It was the start of the company's globalization. GKN established a manufacturing presence in China in 1988, at the same time GKN Driveline was investing in and growing its business in India, Brazil and Mexico.[citation needed]

Products, Research and Development[edit]

CVJ Systems[edit]

...transfer power from the engine to the wheels, allowing articulation and movement from steering and suspension.[7] The three major elements are: inboard and outboard CVJs, including lubrication and sealing systems, and interconnecting shafts, the inboard joint is a plunging joint that allows the effective length of the sideshaft to adjust due to suspension movement. The outboard joint needs to transfer power effectively through a wide range of angles (up to 53 degrees).

AWD Systems[edit]

...are for all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles.[8] GKN Driveline has unique developments for partial or full AWD vehicles. Within AWD Systems, GKN Driveline offers one, two or three-piece high speed propshafts made from steel, aluminium or composite tubes. Forefront example of this technology is used in the custom made to order by Ford Performance for the Ford Focus RS launched in 2016,[9] it utilizes an intelligent torque vectoring AWD system with rear differentials. This AWD system is also used in various vehicles by GM, Volvo and other car manufacturers.[10][11]

Trans Axle Solutions[edit]

...cover an extensive range of Open Differentials, Limited Slip and Locking Differentials, and advanced products like electronic torque vectoring.[12] The wide range of differentials available is used in passenger cars, Sports car (SUVs) and Light truck. Limited Slip and Locking Differentials are designed to improve vehicle traction and handling performance on all surfaces and under all driving conditions, they ensure driving and braking power is effectively distributed across the axle to the wheels, therefore providing unsurpassed levels of stability, handling, traction and overall vehicle control.[citation needed]


...Systems are the solutions from Driveline, which include advanced technology centered on continuous improvement and innovation in the application of alternative power and sustainable energy in systems that deliver performance.[13] Major successes are the developing families of eAxles and eTransmissions across multiple customer programmes. eAxles support the electrification of a vehicle as secondary driven axle while the primary engine is still a combustion engine and therefore can be disconnected. eTransmissions on the contrary manage the torque on the primary axle of fully electrified vehicles. The eAxle drive module is a compact, lightweight Gear with an actively controlled clutch for electric motor assisted AWD, the eAxle unit for axle split Hybrid electric vehicle incorporates a proprietary disconnect clutch technology, which facilitates on-demand all-wheel-drive (AWD) use and contributes to the overall all-terrain functionality and fuel efficiency.[citation needed] Electric drive transmissions can transmit up to 300 kW of power, they are available with ratios up to 14 and can be matched with E-motors from various suppliers to allow flexible application.


  1. ^ a b "Annual Report and Accounts 2011" (PDF). GKN plc. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  2. ^ "GKN Driveline Home". GKN plc. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  3. ^ "Confucius rules at GKN". The Economist. 14 September 2000. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  4. ^ "GKN Driveline Our Solutions". GKN plc. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  5. ^ Andrew Lorenz, "GKN. The Making of a Business 1759-2009", 2009
  6. ^ Andrew Lorenz, GKN, the making of a Business, Wiley UK, 2009 ISBN 9780470749531
  7. ^ "GKN Driveline CVJ Overview". GKN plc. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  8. ^ "GKN Driveline AWD Overview". GKN plc. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  9. ^ "The 2016 Ford Focus RS Gets an Advanced Torque-Vectoring AWD System". Automobile magazine. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  10. ^ "GKN: Drifting, from AWD to eAWD". The Virtual Driver. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  11. ^ "GM seeks a market beyond the snow belt for awd models". Automotive News. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  12. ^ "GKN Driveline Trans Axle Overview". GKN plc. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  13. ^ "GKN Driveline eDrive Overview". GKN plc. Retrieved 25 April 2014.


  • Lorenz, Andrew: GKN.The Making of a Business 1759-2009. John Wiley & Sons Ltd (2009)
  • Jones, Edgar: A History of GKN. Volume One: Innovation & Enterprise 1759-1918. GKN plc (1987)
  • Jones, Edgar: A History of GKN. Volume Two: The Growth of a Business 1918-1945. GKN plc (1990)
  • GKN plc factsheet: http://www.gkn.com/media/Documents/GKNfactsheet_final.pdf, 12.08.2011