GRAZ, Austria - Steyr Fahrzeug Technik is building two North American assembly plants to supply a new generation four-wheel-drive system to General Motors.
The plants will be in Mexico and Atlanta. The 2001 model Pontiac Aztek sport-utility will be equipped with the new unit, called Versatrak.
Versatrak works without a differential and automatically directs torque to the wheels that need it.
The Aztek uses front-wheel drive in normal road conditions. Steyr Fahrzeug Technik's system automatically engages the rear wheels when conditions deteriorate.
When a difference of torque is detected, two special oil pumps activate two clutches that are connected to the wheels. Power is redistributed accordingly.
'It is really a very simple, basic design,' said Herwig Leinfellner, vice president for research and development at Steyr Fahrzeug Technik. 'But to make it work properly we had to develop a sophisticated electronic management system. And we had to make it extremely compact so that it could fit under the low, flat floor at the rear end of the Aztek.'
The company is planning to build 150,000 Versatrak units a year.
Between 250 and 300 workers will be employed at the new plants.
Steyr Fahrzeug Technik of Austria is an engineering subsidiary of Magna International Inc. of Aurora, Ontario.