Eaton celebrates 50 years of MLocker production

The vehicle division of power management company, Eaton, is celebrating 50 years of MLocker differential production. The mechanical locking differential provides drivers with best-in-class traction without the need for pushbuttons, shift knobs, or other driver intervention, and is applicable to vehicles with internal combustion engines and electrified vehicles (EV).

“We’re happy to celebrate this important milestone for the MLocker differential, which is built on the success of its predecessor, our popular Posi differential,” said business unit director, ePowertrain, Eaton’s Vehicle Group, Mark Kramer. “The unique design and proven quality of the MLocker differential have made it the differential of choice for global full-size pickups and sport-utility vehicles, and even a recently launched electrified urban truck in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Using a self-contained, automatic engagement mechanism, the MLocker differential engages in low-traction situations when a wheel speed difference (compared to the other rear wheel) of 100 revolutions per minute or greater is detected. Automatic locking takes less than a fraction of a second, improving traction and providing the driver with increased safety and confidence when travelling on wet or icy roads, gravel, mud, and dirt. The MLocker differential is also compatible with existing anti-lock brake and vehicle stability systems, which simplifies OEM integration.

During normal driving conditions, the MLocker differential functions as a light-bias, limited-slip differential. When a low-traction situation occurs that causes a wheel speed difference, a flyweight mechanism opens to engage a latching bracket, triggering a self-energising clutch system until both axles turn at the same speed (full lock), preventing further wheel slip. Unlocking occurs automatically and the differential resumes normal operation.

The MLocker differential has undergone modifications over its long production run, but the foundational design and concept remained constant.

Keith Morgensai, an engineering specialist who has been involved in MLocker differential engineering and evolution for more than 40 years, said the design has remained functionally the same, but Eaton made a lot of improvements over the years.

“Our initial concept has weathered the test of time, although it’s been consistently improved to meet the needs of the industry. It’s deceptively simple, but there is an awful lot of engineering that went into its development,” said Morgensai.

Since launching the MLocker differential, Eaton’s Vehicle Group has added solutions to its differentials portfolio for all user profiles.

The complete line of differentials now includes:

Detroit Locker differential – A fully automatic locking differential that provides ultimate traction for mild to extreme vehicle applications. It is uniquely engineered to keep both wheels in drive mode, even if one wheel lifts off the ground.

Detroit Truetrac differential – A helical-gear performance limited-slip differential that maximises wheel traction and enhances driving and handling characteristics.

ELocker differential – A highly engineered unit that allows maximum driveline flexibility. Users can switch from a fully open to a fully locked axle at the touch of a button. The forged case and four-pinion gears provide added strength and capability.

InfiniTrac differential – An electronically controlled, limited-slip differential that provides optimised vehicle performance at any speed and traction condition.

Posi differential – A limited-slip differential that automatically prevents wheel slip before it can start. It easily integrates into most axle designs and is tuneable for application requirements.

Eaton also recently announced its Torque control systems business has launched an extensive line-up of specialised differentials for EVs with comparable performance to differentials for traditional internal combustion engine vehicles.

The passenger vehicle market is increasingly transitioning to EVs, and Eaton says it has the expertise and experience to provide the solution EV manufacturers need.

Eaton’s Traction Control family of differentials can provide improved traction in adverse conditions, such as snow and mud, and improved stability while trailering. As a global supplier, Eaton has extensive knowledge of vehicle dynamics and safety standards, as well as decades of experience working with global automotive manufacturers to integrate differentials into new vehicle platforms, including EVs.

“Our years of experience producing industry-leading differentials allows us to provide our customers with a differential solution to meet their every need,” Kramer said. “The success of the MLocker differential was just the beginning of our journey to become a global supplier of differentials.”

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