Home' Australian Automotive Aftermarket Magazine : Australian Auto Aftermarket e-Zine - Feb 13 Contents company that can afford to grow with its
customers. ZF's international aftermarket
experts combines the quality products
customised service offers.
AAAM: I understand that the ZF Group is
investing heavily in its training facilities
and the training that it is planning to
offer its aftermarket servicing staff.
Dr Ottenbruch: We know quite well that just
giving the products to the market is not
enough so we spend a lot of money and
effort on training. We are now building a
new headquarters in (Friedrichshafen)
Germany and one of the major objectives
that we want to realise there is training for
service and aftermarket. We do that in
conjunction with training of our own
engineers, but just as important as the
training is for our own engineers is the
training of the service staff. That makes a
difference. ZF supports the industry to
increase the awareness of quality parts,
e.g. with trainings for partners. Also it
promotes commitment in education, for
example of trade schools, and supports
AAAM: Where do you see the future of
the automotive industry? Is it hybrid,
electric or something else?
Dr Ottenbruch: When we talk about the
future of the automotive business then we
have to talk about improving efficiency
every day, because, if the mobility ratio --
cars per 1000 people living in a country --
rises in the developing countries to the
level that we have in the established
markets, then we have to have the best
efficiencies, lower Co2 and the lowest fuel
consumption, and that is what drives us.
Hybrid technology and electric drive is only
one of several possible solutions. Today
everyone is talking about hybrid and
everyone is talking about electric cars, but
we have to keep in mind they are only two
possible solutions. If you ask me about the
future I think that electric vehicles will be
in the low one percent range. Hybrids will
be more because they provide the highest
efficiency and the high density that you
have in the fuel for your energy because
unfortunately battery is low density. That is
a problem. Yes, there will be some pure
electric drives, but only in a niche.
Especially bigger cars will come with
hybrid engines. There are a lot of problems
with pure electric drive that will not be
solved easily because a lot of it is physics
and chemistry and you cannot change
ZF develops and produces chassis components
and complete chassis for passenger cars.
Number of cylinders, kilowatt/horsepower, and
turbocharger: many drivers are as familiar with these
terms and their meaning as they are with the engine
and driveline data of their vehicles. The chassis,
however, is a different story. How many drivers know
if their car has a multi-link rear suspension and how
hard the shock absorbers are set? However, the
interaction of axle concept, suspension, and damping
characteristics is just as important to the driving
experience as the engine power. ZF Friedrichshafen
AG is one of the worldwide largest, independent
automotive suppliers that is active and experienced
both in driveline and chassis technology.
Passenger car chassis are technical masterpieces:
They are responsible for the suspension comfort for
the passengers, bringing the input torque to the road,
supporting the vehicle mass when cornering, keeping
the car on the track, and compensating external
interference from uneven roads or wind. As a result,
passenger car chassis considerably influence comfort,
driving dynamics, and driving safety -- all factors
responsible for personal experience and safety when
The system, usually simply referred to as 'linkage'
by non-professionals, is in reality an ensemble
perfectly aligned for all driving situations. That means:
The more 'linkage' -- for example, control arms,
mounts, and stabilisers -- that is available, the more
precise the different and sometimes contradicting
requirements can be fulfilled. It is always about
transferring or absorbing forces. The applied forces
sometimes even deliberately cause a characteristic,
elastic deformation of the chassis (elastokinematics)
for instance when the wheel positions change when
cornering quickly so that increasing lateral forces can
be better supported.
The more complex and versatile a passenger car
chassis is the more space it requires and in the end,
the more it adds to the overall vehicle weight.
Engineers counteract this development in two ways.
They reduce the axle's complexity by integrating
functions and reduce weight by using alternative and
Shock absorber -- a vital individual component
The vibration damper or shock absorber is an
important individual component in the chassis. It is
installed between body and wheel carrier in order to
compensate vertical movements. This is to prevent the
vehicle body from constantly moving when driving on
uneven roads, which could lead to critical situations.
Shock absorbers are also responsible for the
For conventional shock absorbers, there is a fixed
basic setting of the suspension -- this line is always a
compromise between a setting that is too hard (good
for road contact in curves and when driving fast) or
too soft (good for the passenger comfort). ZF's solution
for this compromise is an active damping system like
the CDC (Continuous Damping Control). With CDC,
depending on the driving situation, an electronic
control unit sets precisely the right hardness in real
time in a special shock absorber.
There are additional active systems in the chassis,
including the Active Roll Stabilisation (ARS) system,
also developed by ZF. ARS almost completely
eliminates body roll when cornering at a certain speed.
The AKC (Active Kinematics Control) changes the
length of a linkage component based on specific
parameters, thereby increasing the vehicle's stability.
Active systems in chassis and steering can even be
connected to build a network with similar safety
characteristics like the ESP (electronic stability
program) only without braking intervention.
Extensive know-how -- worldwide customers
There are only few suppliers bundling all the
competencies in the chassis area like ZF
Friedrichshafen AG does. ZF's expertise encompasses
fundamental research to find new, lighter materials,
and also for the development of complete chassis
systems and chassis components on behalf of
automotive manufacturers. ZF produces complete
chassis systems, which are delivered just to the
customers' assembly plants Countryman, and the
Mercedes others. The ZF Chassis Technology division
has production locations for axle systems or chassis
components worldwide. Almost every automotive
manufacturer in the world is using axle and chassis
components by ZF.
AUTOMOTIVE AFTERMARKET MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2013 21
CAR CHASSIS: THE UNSUNG HERO
Interaction of axle concept, suspension, and damping is essential for driving safety and comfort.
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