Milestone Moments: AAM Launches TracRite®

Apr 25, 2024, 10:05 AM
Title : Milestone Moments: AAM Launches TracRite®
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AAM was founded 30 years ago on commitments to Quality, Technology Leadership and Operational Excellence. Our emphasis on Technology Leadership means we are always seeking to engineer solutions that set new benchmarks for safety, performance and sustainability.

In 1996, AAM’s advanced engineering group developed a new product that would align with our dedication to Technology Leadership by increasing the POWER and efficiency of vehicles for many years to come: TracRite®, our traction-enhancing family of differentials.

The standard, or open differential, has long served as a fundamental vehicle component, facilitating smooth cornering by allowing the outer wheel to rotate slightly faster than the inner wheel. This design minimizes tire noise and ensures maneuverability as the vehicle turns. However, the limitations of this conventional setup become apparent when confronted with icy or slippery surfaces. In these conditions, one tire can easily succumb to the path of least resistance, resulting in wheel spin and a loss of traction.

TracRite addresses this challenge and has a diverse range of solutions aimed at preventing power from being disproportionately directed towards the path of least resistance. These innovative differentials include a multifaceted approach to bolstering traction in harsh conditions. From plate clutches to gear trains, lockers, electronic lockers, and electronic limited slips, the TracRite family offers an array of technologies designed to distribute torque effectively, curbing wheel spin and enhancing overall traction performance.

After over two years of development, testing and validation, #TeamAAM’s engineers launched the first products under the TracRite name: the TracRite GT Helical Gear Limited Slip Differentials in our 10.5” and 11.5” rear axles for the 2002 RAM Heavy Duty 2500 / 3500 pickup trucks. AAM’s electronic locking differentials (TracRite eL) also made their debut in the market, with the TracRite EL Open Differential that sports electronic locking in the front axle and a TracRite GTL Helical Gear Limited Slip Differential that holds electronic locking in the rear.

Since its launch, TracRite and other AAM differentials have generated over 90 families of patent applications. In the U.S. alone, AAM has received over 120 patents for this technology with several more applications in the pipeline. AAM has nationalized applications in 11 foreign countries, resulting in over 240 foreign patents and another 37 applications still pending.

Key figures in the early development of TracRite, and members of #TeamAAM who continue to Deliver POWER to this day, include Paul Valente, Director Product Engineering – Innovation; Jim Downs, Executive Director PE Innovation; Eric Rivett, Director Product Engineering – Gear Design and Development; Scott Jacob, Senior Manager Test/Validation and Joe Balenda, Senior Tech Manager Product Engineering – Differentials.

As the technology continues to evolve, TracRite finds application in a variety of vehicles across diverse markets, spanning across leading automakers like GM, Volkswagen, Stellantis, Ford and Mercedes. TracRite has become an integral component in enhancing vehicle performance across various terrains.

As we reflect on AAM's 30-year journey, TracRite stands as a testament to our commitment to innovation and Bringing the Future Faster. Learn more about TracRite here.

AAM Milestone Moments is a monthly series celebrating and reflecting on key achievements in AAM’s 30-year history. Ranging from watershed innovations and technological advances to foundational programs and community initiatives that are part of AAM’s DNA, these AAM Milestone Moments will each tell an important piece of the AAM story.

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  • Technology Leadership
TracRite Cadillac
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