Texelis axles and powertrains manufacturer for armored vehicles boosts its innovation programs


Texelis is a French manufacturer of more than axles and drivelines: complete mobility solutions encompassing the design process since its very beginning down to the delivery to the final assembler. The company can adapt to a wide range of customer’s requests (and budgets), from the supply of elements to be assembled by the customer, up to total integration. The production facility is located in Limoges, in buildings that have a long and fascinating history since 1939, under successive names and with changing activities before the present name of Texelis was created in 2009.


French mobility solutions manufacturer Texelis boosts its innovation programmes 1
Texelis T700 axle (7-ton loading capacity) (Picture source: Army Recognition)


The scope of Texelis’ activities covers four sectors: defense (44%), rail (41%), trucks (8%) and service (7%). These figures are for 2018. One could profitably present the company’s activities in the field of public transportation means (trams, rubber-tyred metros and autonomous people movers, not mentioning train maintenance) with which Texelis enjoys a stunning worldwide success but it doesn’t fit in Army Recognition's field of interest. So, we focus on the defense sector.


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Texelis' main facility is located in Limoges, on a site with a rich and fascinating history in the field of defense manufacturing. Illustrated here is the office building (Picture source: Army Recognition)


Texelis produces and delivers complete drivetrains, as kits or fully assembled, including transfer boxes, shafts steering, brakes, suspensions, etc. Texelis designs and manufactures drivelines and, more generally, complete mobility solutions already successful on five continents. The company already has got several foreign customers for its T700 axles: Sisu (for its GTP), Imut (for its T500), Yugoimport (fort its Milos), and Stark Motors (for its Thunder), to mention only some of them. The customers for the T900 axles are numerous as well. The complexity of the axles for 4x4, 6x6 and 8x8 vehicles is exponential, not steadily growing, namely when steering axles are also involved. The T900 integrated modular driveline is a state-of-the-art example of Texelis’ know-how.


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Texelis manufactures under Volvo license all the axles for 8x8 trucks like the Arquus (Renault Trucks) Kerax. A Canadian army contract is almost completed to date (Picture source: Army Recognition)


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Texelis axles for Arquus Kerax 8x8 trucks ready for shipment (Picture source: Army Recognition)


For vehicles with a higher GVW than the Serval presented below, Texelis manufactures the T900 modular drive system developed by Timoney, which has been designed for installation on 4x4, 6x6 and 8x8 vehicles, either military trucks abiding to highly demanding criteria, or combat vehicles (APC, IFV, AFV).


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TeXelis Platform TXP displayed at Abu Dhabi for IDEX 2019 (Picture source: Army Recognition)


TeXelis Platform TXP 14 and 18

A new chassis system was launched by Texelis at Eurosatory 2018. The unit, called the TeXelis Platform (TXP) family, has been designed for armored vehicles up to 18 ton gross vehicle weight. The chassis designed by Texelis includes everything from the wheels through suspension, steering, powerpack, transmission to the dashboard and all the vehicle mobility electronics.

Combining leading proven, in-production subsystems from suppliers including Cummins, Powerline and Allison, the chassis provides customers with the ability to mount their own designed hull onto a chassis designed to meet the requirements of a rugged 4x4 off-road vehicle.


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Jean Vandel, Defense Business Unit Director at Texelis, explains the company's ambitious research work (Picture source: Army Recognition)


Jean Vandel, Defense Business Unit Director at Texelis, said: "The TXP 14 and 18 Platforms combine recent developments in automotive technology to provide the user with a reliable, advanced mobility solution onto which they can mount their own hull design. We see the chassis as the base of a range of vehicles from patrol, through C4ISR, medevac, logistics and recce".

The system will be provided in two versions. The TXP 14, using a Texelis and Timoney designed T700 axle system, is for 14 ton GVW vehicles and the TXP 18 using the Timoney T900 for vehicles up to 18 ton. The two versions give users the opportunity to capitalise on a common running gear and hence reduce the logistics and support requirements.

The TXP platform is fitted with a Cummins 6 cylinders and an automatic Allison 6 speed gearbox, an independent suspension system, a hydraulic steering system, All Terrain Rubber Runflats, ABS brakes and a central tyre inflation system (CTIS).

The technical characteristics of the TXP chassis include an 8,000 to 12,500 kg chassis load capacity, 110km/h Maximum speed and a 350HP Diesel engine.

More defense programmes and innovations

For the 8x8 VBCI (Véhicule Blindé de Combat d’Infanterie), Texelis manufactures under licence the subsystems for Arquus which supplies more complete subsystems to Nexter for final integration on the armored cell. For the Serval, another vehicle of the Scorpion programme, Texelis supplies only Nexter which will assemble the vehicle.


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Several prototypes of the Serval are completed to date but still covered by strict DGA access restrictions. Only a scale model is visible for visitors without special defense clearance (Picture source: Army Recognition)


After an initial intercompany contract signed on 2 February 2017 in the framework of the DGA’s competition, Texelis was awarded a contract by the DGA in 2018 to supply the complete running chassis for the French Army's new Serval (4x4) Lightweight Multi-Role Armored Vehicle (let’s say a light version of the VBMR Griffon). Texelis is to supply the following to Nexter: independent suspension systems, Diesel engine, gearbox, stucture for batteries, protected fuel tank, alternator, automatic pre-heating winch and subframe. It includes the main steering, gearing and suspension elements, allowing for optimisation for low weight.

The Serval elements provided to Nexter for assembly on the monocoque cell actually consist of the front-mounted powerpack - consisting of the engine, transmission and cooling system and transfer box - complete driver's dashboard, powered steering, fuel system, vehicle electronics, suspension and wheels. This pack will be sent to Nexter Systems' Roanne production and system integration facility, where the all-welded steel body will be attached and other subsystems integrated.

Currently, several prototypes are assembled, of which some are to be released by the DGA before the end of 2019 for trials. The first 108 Servals are scheduled to be delivered in 2022, 154 in 2023, 112 in 2024 and 115 in 2025, plus additional vehicles. This programme is scheduled to end in 2038.

Three types of trucks will be ordered by the French army, for Which Texelis will do its best to get involved, at least for the axles: gas tank trucks, armored vehicle transport, tactical and logistical trucks. The DGA wants a “real and open” competition for this future market.

The VBAE (Véhicule Blindé d’Aide à l’Engagement, armored vehicle for engagement assistance) will be a light vehicle able to fulfill various combat roles. It is in this scope that Arquus is already testing its Scarabee.

Hybrid propulsion is another innovation activity in which Texelis is investing a lot, aiming at equipping vehicles with electric motors. Various configurations are currently taken into consideration, each presenting advantages and disadvantages.

The MAC is the future 8x8 Engineer Combat Support Vehicle that will replace the current engineer tank (EBG, engine Blindé du Génie) in the French army, this one again in the framework of the Scorpion programme.

The four-wheel-steering technology is much more complex than it may appear. Texelis is a leader in this sector. For a 3.7m-wheelbase vehicle, it reduces the turning radius from 8 to less than 7 meters. Electronic components, not only mechanical, are needed to reach this result by properly piloting the steering.

Torque vectoring to actively control the trajectory is another promising technology. It differs from the passive ESP which brakes one of the front wheels at a time to re-align the vehicle on a trajectory. It brings more stability, as it adapts the traction on each wheel instead of simply braking.

Robotization is another research field intensively worked on by Texelis, applicable only to military uses. The aim is to have a teleoperated vehicle able to work with as well as without a driver on board, on-road and off-road. Basic functions are implemented: turning, braking, moving,… Other ones need to be defined.

Ride height management is also being studied by Texelis to enable the quick adaptation of a military vehicle to the height appropriate to various situations.

To conclude, Texelis, being already very successful in several parts of the world, is pushing hard toward Asia. In fact, Texelis adapts its business model to the targeted market. In some countries, many customers (national manufacturers) want to market their own armored vehicles but can manufacture only the armored hull. Hence, a large market for armament and driveline manufacturers who adapt their proposals to the level of components needed or affordable. If the expected market is worth the investment, Texelis is ready to consider the setting up of a manufacturing unit in the customer country.



 

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