Project X Xterra Concept SUV Provides Hints of Upcoming Full Size Truck
The electronic differential solution demonstrated on Project X was developed in cooperation with Eaton and its Torque Control Products Division. Known as ELocker, the system is activated manually using switches on the truck's dash - one for each axle.
A differential allows your truck's wheels to spin at different rates through turns but can be a handicap during some off-road conditions when a spinning wheel can't get enough traction. Locking differentials prevent the wheel with the least amount of traction from spinning and transfer up to 100% of the spinning wheel's torque to the wheel with a better grip so you don't get stuck in the sand, mud or snow.
Traditional locking differentials are activated either automatically or manually. The ELocker's differential can be activated at any moment by the driver to provide additional traction on demand in hairy off-road situations and turned off just as quickly.
Today only Toyota offers an electronically activated locking rear differential as an option on their pickups.
GM full-size trucks are available with optional front and rear automatic locking differentials. Automatic locking diffs are typically activated when a slipping wheel reaches a certain RPM and require no driver intervention.
Nissan has clearly stated that it expects to set new standards with its 2004 full size pickup and this will most likely be one of the innovations that will debut.