At the Tokyo Motor Show at the end of October, ZF Friedrichshafen AG presents itself as a trend setter for future automotive mobility. The focus lies on the Advanced Urban Vehicle. On the one hand, the Cloud-connected city car is purely electrically powered with a semi-automated drive feature and impressively demonstrates ZF’s competencies. On the other, it offers Japan's great number of megacities a solution for the challenges of urban transport. This concept car also clearly illustrates how complete systems with broad customer benefits can grow out of the integration of ZF TRW in the future. As of the beginning of 2016, the technology company will bundle e-mobility activities in the new E-Mobility Division at the Schweinfurt location in Germany.
With a production volume of ten million vehicles in 2014, the Japanese automotive industry is amongst the most important automotive industries on a global scale. Japanese automotive manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda, and Nissan also have considerable production capacities abroad, for instance in Europe and the U.S. Several of these "transplants" have been customers of ZF Friedrichshafen AG for years. Now ZF is presenting its expanded product portfolio at the Tokyo Motor Show for the first time since the acquisition of TRW. The focus is on the Advanced Urban Vehicle. "This concept vehicle shows quite clearly that ZF's innovative power is focused on the automotive megatrends of efficiency, safety, and automated driving," says Dr. Stefan Sommer, CEO of ZF. "Simultaneously, the Advanced Urban Vehicle demonstrates clearly how the product range of ZF TRW excellently and synergistically complements the company's existing product portfolio."
Advanced Urban Vehicle: intelligent networking
With the Advanced Urban Vehicle, ZF presents an exemplary solution for individual urban transport in the compact and subcompact segments. The concept car's characteristic features are its purely electric rear axle drive eTB (Electric Twist Beam) which is located close to the wheel and an innovative front axle with a steering angle of up to 75 degrees. Thanks to the modified steering angle in combination with torque vectoring on the rear axle, the diameter of the turning circle of the Advanced Urban Vehicle is reduced to less than 6.50 meters. A U-turn, in other words a turning maneuver of 180 degrees, is possible with no difficulty on a standard two-lane road. Two driver assistance functions further characterize the concept car: Smart Parking Assist maneuvers the vehicle into virtually any small parking space – also remote-controlled at the push of a button using mobile devices such as a smartphone or smartwatch. The Cloud-based assistance function, PreVision Cloud Assist, reduces, if needed, the drive torque in a timely manner prior to cornering, thereby also reducing the speed without mechanical braking. The driver, however, remains in direct contact with the Advanced Urban Vehicle using HOD (hands on/off detection) and the steering wheel display. With almost 13 million inhabitants, Tokyo is still one of the world's largest megacities. The locally emission-free, purely electric city vehicle, the Advanced Urban Vehicle, can demonstrate its strengths in such megacities in particular.
Future-oriented system solutions from a single source
The manner in which the ZF concept vehicle combines individual systems into a versatile overall package can be used in the future in many different ways. The combined product portfolio from ZF and TRW, complemented by additional competencies, will soon result in new product developments with added value for the customer. One example of a field of application in this context is regenerative braking in hybrid electric vehicles, i.e. the possibility to generate electric energy by braking. ZF can now offer optimal switching between the electric motor and the service brake, so-called "brake blending", from a single source. Anticipatory environment sensors make this particularly efficient and safe. They also make recording environmental data possible. By networking the steering system, brakes, and active chassis systems, as well as camera and radar systems, ZF can also extend the limits of driving dynamics, making driving even safer in the process. The combination of steering system, brake, and rear axle steering AKC (Active Kinematics Control), along with information from the camera and radar systems, can stabilize driving through targeted steering and braking interventions and prevent lateral slippage of the vehicle. Networking the steering system, CDC (Continuous Damping Control), and the camera system offers similar advantages. Thanks to information from the camera, the damping hardness and the steering system can be adjusted to bumpy road surfaces in advance ("Predictive Damping").
New E-Mobility Division bundles e-mobility activities
So far, activities regarding the future business of e-mobility have been allocated to different organizational units; now, they will be bundled in the E-Mobility Division. It complements the five Divisions: Car Powertrain Technology, Car Chassis Technology, Commercial Vehicle Technology, Industrial Technology, and Active & Passive Safety Technology.
The new E-Mobility Division focuses on the Electronic Systems and Electric Drive Technology business units. It is supplemented by the E-Mobility Project House that bundles several e-mobility projects from the entire company.