Meritor expands its electric axle line

Meritor Inc. (NYSE: MTOR) is expanding its electric axle line with two new models and announced that it has been chosen as one of seven suppliers for an electric vehicle project in South America, during a 30-minute press conference on Oct. 29, 2019, at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta.

“MAN and Volkswagen in South America have chosen Meritor to be part of its e-Consortium,” Chris Villavarayan, president of Meritor’s global truck business, said. “We are one of seven suppliers chosen and it means we will [have] a five-year exclusivity to supply electric axles.”

The e-Consortium, announced earlier this year, is a project designed to fast-track electric vehicle adoption in South America. Through the e-Consortium, Volkswagen plans to deliver 1,600 e-delivery trucks with the Meritor 12X drive axle, to Brazilian beverage company Cervejaria Ambev, representing one-third of its fleet, by 2023. The 12X will eventually be replaced by the Meritor 12Xe electric axle.

The 12Xe is an expansion of its electric axle line first introduced in 2016 with the 14Xe. There will also be a 17Xe model for heavy-duty applications. The 12Xe is for Class 4-7 vehicles, said John Bennett, vice president and chief technology officer.

All the electric axles are part of Meritor’s Blue Horizon e-mobility program.

“We will be deploying over 130 vehicles over the course of the next year with Meritor’s Blue Horizon electrification products,” he said.

Now in its third generation, the 14Xe is currently being used in 22 active e-mobility programs worldwide and has thousands of miles of real-world experience. The 12Xe leverages many of the same components but has been packaged in a smaller housing and gearing has been optimized for medium-duty applications, Bennett said. There are four power levels available: 150, 180 or 200 kilowatts of continuous power and 250 kilowatts of peak power.

The 17Xe is designed for heavy-duty applications using 6×2 and 4×2 configurations. It, too, uses many of the same components, but a significant difference is that the transmission has been moved to the front and the motor in the back of the axle, allowing for “drop-in” capabilities in existing units. Power is 450 kilowatts at peak and 420 kilowatts continuously.

“I believe we now have the most comprehensive electric powertrain options in the world,” Bennett said.

Meritor announced a number of other product updates and introductions. In its high efficiency (HE) axle line, the company has updated its 14X and 17X offerings and introduced a new RT160 HE axle.

The 14X HE tandem now has a second Meritor Lube Management System added to the carrier of the forward axle, which when combined with the rear lube system, provides more efficiency.

The new 17X HE axle for 4×2 and 6×2 heavy-haul applications targets a 1% efficiency improvement over Meritor’s previous offering. The Meritor Lube Management system is standard, offering reduced lubrication volume, and Meritor’s use of laser welding to join the ring gear and differential housing eliminates the need for bolts, which contribute to churning losses. The 1.95 fast gear ratio equips applications for downspeeding. The axle offers a gross axle weight rating (GAWR) of up 40,000 pounds.

The new RT160 HE tandem axle also targets a 1% efficiency improvement over Meritor’s previous product due to the Meritor Lube Management System and fuel-efficient bearings. Offering a GAWR of 46,000, the tandem axle is equipped with axle ratios of 2.67 and 2.80 for down speeding.

The company is adding a new 14K non-drive steer axle. At 14,700 pounds, the MFS+ is among the lightest steer axles in North America, the company said. The MFS+ 14K axle offers weight savings up to 68 pounds compared with the existing MFS 14K axle. The integrated torque plate and tie rod arm is built with fewer bolted joints, reducing maintenance costs and brakes are mounted at 12 o’clock for easy removal. The axle also offers high-angle turning capacity up to 55 degrees and universal compatibility with braking systems.

A new pad friction is now available as well. The MA9300 friction demonstrated superior pad wear and similar rotor life compared to Meritor’s current offering during two years of comprehensive lab validation and more than 2.4 million miles of field testing, the company said. The friction fits Meritor EX+ L and EX+ H air-disc brakes.

Finally, the company has launched a new lightweight, single-piston air disc brake. The EX+ LS is designed specifically for U.S. linehaul and trailer applications.  

“After years of development, more than 300 lab tests and over 1 million miles of validation on the road, our EX+ LS air disc brake is designed to offer the reliability and performance that customers expect from Meritor,” said T.J. Reed, vice president of Front Drivetrain and Electrification. “This new brake rounds out an industry-leading portfolio of advanced braking solutions specifically designed to serve the linehaul segment.”

The single-piston design, which is two times larger than previous pistons, will reduce unnecessary wear, even as the brake is validated to the same taper wear criteria as a twin-piston brake.

The EX+ LS air disc brake comes standard with MA9300 N-level proprietary friction. Optional positive pad retraction is designed with the goal of maintaining friction couple running clearance to extend pad life and reduce brake drag. An optional pad wear warning indicator aids in service predictability.

Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at