Flex4 may sound like something sold during the 3 a.m. hour on advertorial television, but it's really Magna's part-time all-wheel drive system that offers the benefits of AWD with lower emissions than standard AWD. How? Because Flex4 can disengage the power going to the rear wheels when it determines that it isn't needed, changing the vehicle to a more-efficient two-wheel-drive ride. The AWD is also engaged every time the vehicle stops and, most of the time, when the vehicle goes above 30 miles per hour, the rear wheels disengage. Whenever the system detects a slippery road, the AWD reconnects in a few hundred milliseconds. The AWD also engages if there is a "yaw event" (i.e., a hard lane change). The benefit? A fuel economy improvement of around .8 to 1 mile per gallon compared to standard AWD systems.

Flex4 on display at the SAE World Congress was just a prototype, and is being designed to be purely automatic but it could theoretically be driver-selectable. At this stage, too, there is no estimated cost for such a system, but Magna knows that OEMs will be looking for ways to add AWD capability to vehicles even as CO2 emissions regulations get tighter and tighter. As a Tier 1 supplier, Magna says it is ready to start production of Flex4 now.

Magna has been working on Flex4 for at least two years, but not a lot of information about the system is available online. We did find one video about Flex4, which we've pasted down below, but it happens to be in German. Still, you can see Flex4 at work in all it's animated glory.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 10 Comments
      marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      What's the matter with you guy's? So it's not about an EV, but it still a valid fuel reducing technology ! As Nick says, AWD, is a bit pointless on highways. As the article says, more manufacturers are offering vehicles with AWD, and this technology is more efficient. Don't be so narrow minded and pedantic. Saving Fuel technology, is 'greener' technology, and so becomes newsworthy.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nice to see Magna found another user for their EV drivetrain. The more users, the more they can spread out the dev costs.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Forget that. I assumed this was about their EV drivetrain since this is ABG.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Ha ha. There you were thinking that ABG was posting something relevant to green cars.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Exactly. I saw 'Magna Powertrain' on the side of the vehicle and immediately (and stupidly) jumped to a conclusion.
      • 2 Years Ago
      “The benefit? A fuel economy improvement of around .8 to 1 mile per gallon compared to standard AWD systems.” How can you specify a gain of 1 mpg? For a car rated at 100 mpg, the difference of 1 mpg to an end result of 101 mpg is only 0.023 l/100km, whereas the difference between 7 and 8 mpg amounts to 1.2l/100km. Just pointing out that specifying a gain in reduction of l/100km or CO2 g/km would be more helpful in this regard. Greetings
      Nick
      • 2 Years Ago
      Very smart ! It is completely wasteful to coast down the highway with all 4 wheels powered, it makes NO sense.
      amtoro
      • 2 Years Ago
      And what is the difference with the Real-Time AWD system that Honda has had in the CR-V and the Element for over 8 years? I had a 2004 Element that did exactly the same...
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      You know what, Sebastian? Honey badger DON'T care.