German parts supplier Schaeffler hones a better wheel bearing

Eastman said the bearing can also benefit automakers looking to redesign existing internal combustion engine vehicles to offer hybrid or BEV variations. TriFinity takes up the same amount of space as standard two-row versions or can be even smaller.

“Maybe OEMs don’t want to go through a complete redesign of the entire wheel bearing. If that has to grow, then everything surrounding it — the knuckle, the brakes, everything — has to change, too,” he said. “The TriFinity bearing helps us to put a little more capacity into the same package.”

Eastman said the initial concept for the design emerged in 2009, but work on it began in earnest around 2019 by teams in North America and Europe.

The bearing will go into production late this year or in early 2023. Eastman said Schaeffler has entered into a contract to supply it to an automaker, but he declined to name the company.

The rollout comes shortly after Schaeffler established a new business division dedicated to bearings this year, helmed in North America by Eastman.

The company believes there is growth potential in the segment as the industry continues to electrify.

“There’s a laser focus within this division on the bearings themselves and leveraging synergies across the different applications and product types,” he said. “We have to be able to make sure we’re using resources as efficiently as possible, that we’re developing best practices and developing solutions that the market and our customers need.”

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