Press Release


ZF Reinforces Electrification of Buses to Achieve Zero Emissions in the City

  • New all-electric central drive CeTrax designed for city buses
  • Electric portal axle AVE 130, the volume-production solution for low-floor buses
  • TraXon Hybrid enables hybrid functionalities for coaches

Friedrichshafen, Germany/Atlanta, GA. ZF Friedrichshafen AG offers a broad product and services portfolio for the electrification of commercial vehicles. The company focuses on all-electric drive solutions for urban vehicles and hybrid technologies for use in long-distance transport applications. The latest development is the purely electric central drive CeTrax, which can be used in delivery trucks and different bus applications in the inner city. In contrast, the AVE 130 electric portal axle for city busses with its electric drive near the wheels has already been established in serial application. ZF's portfolio has been expanded by drive controls and inverters, so that alongside components, it can now offer vehicle manufacturers complete drive systems for electric buses. Furthermore, ZF has hybrid solutions in its portfolio, such as the TraXon Hybrid for coaches. The commercial vehicles industry is also reaping the benefits of the close link to e-mobility solutions for passenger cars. ZF is now looking into adapting the all-electric axle drive for cars so that it can be used in minibuses as well.

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ZF Reinforces Electrification of Buses to Achieve Zero Emissions in the City

High torques and powerful diesel engines remain critical components for buses in many areas. Nevertheless, electrification has strong potential here as well, because for some applications and market regions, the hybrid or the all-electric drive is already a better alternative today. “Many commercial vehicles with limited daily routes can already be operated using all-electric drives,” says Fredrik Staedtler, head of the Commercial Vehicle Technology Division at ZF. These systems are even mandatory in many large metropolitan cities in Europe and Asia that already have strict emissions regulations. Buses are often used in a return-to-base operation, which means that they return to the depot over night where they can be easily recharged.

Local transport buses are getting around town with all-electric drives

As the latest addition to its broad e-mobility solution portfolio, ZF is now developing the all-electric central drive CeTrax that brings large delivery trucks, and in particular city buses, one step closer to zero-emission driving. The central drive is ideal for vehicles with a driveline configuration similar to that currently used in conventional vehicles, thus making it easy to integrate into existing vehicle concepts. The fact that CeTrax can be combined with single rear drive axles and conventional low-floor axles means it can be installed in low-entry buses and all kinds of low-floor buses. Compared to solutions from competitors, ZF's central drive provides clear weight advantages, high performance and excellent efficiency. This is down to the systematic consideration of the entire driveline and an innovative e-motor layout.

The popular AVE 130 electric portal axle is the ideal solution for low-floor city buses because it provides weight benefits in the vehicle and accommodates flexible vehicle architectures with open interior designs. Also worthy of a mention here is the simple implementation of a puller concept for articulated buses. The second axle is driven, providing advantages in driving dynamics, permitting simplifications of the swivel joint and allowing completely new concepts for coupled vehicles.

Optimally adapted inverters and drive controls have also been added to the portfolio. In this way, alongside supplying components, ZF can also offer vehicle manufacturers complete drive systems for electric buses.

Hybrid functionalities for coaches

ZF has developed yet another product for hybrid use in heavy commercial vehicles. Its TraXon Hybrid features an electric motor installed between the combustion engine and the transmission. This parallel hybrid design allows all hybrid functionalities to be realized in a coach as well. One feature particularly attractive for many applications is that in generator mode, the hybrid module can also supply power to other units, for example, the air conditioner. At the bus station, on the other hand, the bus can be maneuvered into position purely electrically.

Light commercial vehicles benefit from synergies with passenger car solutions

Electromobility solutions for light commercial vehicles benefit from ZF's passenger car competence. The Group is now also adapting a central axle drive for minibuses that is going into volume production for passenger cars in 2018. It combines an electric motor with a two-stage single-speed transmission, differential and power electronics to form a highly-integrated, extremely compact unit. The system's 150 kW maximum performance is also sufficient for use in midibuses as well. “Identifying synergies between passenger cars and commercial vehicles has always been an asset of ZF and this also holds true for our electrification strategy,” emphasizes Staedtler.


Frank Discher

Technology and Product Communications

+49 7541-77 960770

Thomas Wenzel

Director External Communications

+49 7541 77-2543