Wednesday, September 23, 2020
News McGill’s Intelligent Automation Lab Has Developed A Dual Speed Electric Transmission

McGill’s Intelligent Automation Lab Has Developed A Dual Speed Electric Transmission

A two-speed transmission for electric motors for larger vehicles increases efficiency and lowers costs.

  • So far, the application is for large trucks and buses.

  • Currently, the only production EV to have a two-speed transmission is the Porsche Taycan.

  • The transmission enables the use of smaller less expensive electric motors.


One of the areas where the electrification of our vehicles will have a huge impact is with large trucks and buses. These larges vehicles may afford room for larger battery packs however their excessive weight, on top of the vehicle’s weight, means that bigger electric motors are required. This is where McGill’s patented high-efficiency dual-speed electric transmission comes into play.

For the last two years, McGill and Cummins have field-tested an electric drivetrain in collaboration with Purolator. They outfitted several trucks with the electric drivetrain in Ottawa and Montreal. The results of the tested vehicles are conclusive: the dual-speed electric transmission works.

Benoit Boulet, a professor of Electrical Engineering and Associate Dean for Research and Innovation at McGill’s Faculty of Engineering, has been working on the technology with industry partners for a decade. Boulet explains that one of the main reasons for the delayed application of EV technology in larger trucks is cost. In order to get decent acceleration and practical highway speeds, the electric motors need to be huge. He adds: “So companies wind up having to oversize the motor, oversize the power electronics and the battery, to be able to meet both specs.”

The technology has proven its worth but Boulet’s not done as he and his team are working on a multi-speed transmission for the largest vehicles on the road. He states “ “We still have some theory to go through before we can demonstrate it. But we’ve already begun to build a testbed for it, and I’m confident that within six months to a year we should have a demo in the lab for a new type of transmission that’s even more sophisticated.”

As of now, Boulet says that it’s up to companies and the business to make it happen. He concludes by saying that they are actively working with and others are interested.

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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai

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