Aided by the acquisition of Wabco, ZF is enhancing its CV technology portfolio.

Story by Deepti Thore

Making substantial progress in implementing new development projects that would lead to combined system competencies in just four months of acquiring Wabco, ZF Friedrichshafen AG (ZF) is well-poised to address future transport and mobility challenges. Making heady progress in the direction, the automotive tier 1 supplier has formed a separate Commercial Vehicle Control Systems Division (CVCSD) to enable its customers to leverage advanced technology innovation, an extensive product portfolio, systems integration expertise and a bigger global footprint. Expressed Fredrik Staedtler, Head -ZF Commercial Vehicle Control Systems Division, that ZF Friedrichshafen AG is building on its technology portfolio with the recent acquisition of Wabco Holdings Inc. He mentioned that the extensive combined product portfolio would include conventional and electric drive and chassis components, a comprehensive suite of sensors as well as fully integrated, advanced braking, steering and driver assistance systems for OEMs seeking technological differentiation for their new vehicle platforms.
Including digital fleet management solutions and an extensive global network of aftermarket services for CVs, ZF is looking at mobilising CV intelligence by offering digitisation, connectivity and technologically advanced solutions. Keen to contribute for a more sustainable, connected and safer future, ZF is developing a slew of new and innovative technologies. Of these, the most relevant perhaps is the autonomous trailer coupling function and energy-saving truck-trailer combination with optimised installation space in combination with advanced trailer aerodynamics. The tech realises a weight saving of up to 150 kg on a truck chassis besides helping to reduce up to seven per cent fuel consumption. Increasing payload and improving truck handling, the new technological development also leads to saving of space. The space saved could prove to be of much advantage in case of electric vehicle platforms with battery or fuel cell stacks onboard. It would also aid to comply with new requirements set by the EU where CV manufacturers need to reduce new commercial vehicle CO2 fleet emissions by 15 per cent before 2025 and by 30 per cent before 2030.

Driving electrification in CVs
The need to comply with the new requirements set by the EU for reduction in CO2 fleet emissions has been increasing the demand for electric drive trains in buses and trucks. In the wake of that, ZF is increasing electric drive range and e-trailer innovations. It is keen to help CV fleets turn safer and greener. The new requirements by the EU also involve driver assistance systems approvals from 2022, and advanced blind-spot warning systems from 2024. To address those, ZF is integrating advanced driver assistance and fuel-efficiency systems into its existing technology range in collaboration with Wabco. It is driving the next level of vehicle automation and digital connectivity in the best possible way. Taking sustainable technology to the next level, ZF is offering lightweight trucks with an aerodynamic trailer and a fully-automated tractor-trailer coupling.

Offering an advanced reversing assist system to enhance vehicle safety and operational efficiency, ZF has developed a fuel-saving truck-trailer prototype that highlights new innovations and could pave the way for significantly efficient and safe CVs. Averred Andreas Moser, Head of ZF’s Commercial Vehicle Technology Division, that his Group has developed technologies for energy-efficient driving. These combine lightweight design and aerodynamics with optimized chassis space to offer major benefits for future electrification strategies, he added. In the wake of substantial reduction in CO2 dictated by regulations as well as by the rising acceptance for vehicles with alternate fuel strategies, ZF, with Wabco by its side, is quickly and thoughtfully enhancing its CV technology portfolio. At the top of its actions is the CV electrification programme.

Increasing electric tech scope

To accelerate the CV electrification program, ZF has been operating its AxTrax AVE electric portal axle for low-floor buses. This axle is aimed at addressing the requirements for ‘Zero Emission Zones’ and enables quieter operations. Expected to soon begin volume production of the CeTrax electric central drive, which targets specific urban applications, from small delivery trucks to large city buses, ZF is following the plug-and-drive principle. The most powerful version of the CeTrax electric central drive delivers 300 kW of power and 4,500 Nw torque. Confident that it would make it easier for CV makers to transition from an IC engine to electric propulsion, ZF is developing a complete modular electric drive kit, with axle and central drives for buses and trucks of up to 44 tonnes by 2023. It is also developing electric drive systems that could be combined with a battery
or fuel cell, ensuring the required flexibility.
Making available electric drive systems that include a tailor-made inverter and control unit (ECU) for maximum operational efficiency, ZF is extending its electrification portfolio by developing e-Trailers with an integrated electric motor too. The e-Trailer’s intelligent motor recuperates electric energy during braking and downhill manoeuvres, This could be reutilised to power the vehicle’s traction or to operate the vehicle’s onboard electric auxiliaries. What makes it particularly interesting is that the e-Trailer can turn the CV it is coupled with into a hybrid vehicle that consumes up to 16 per cent less fuel on short-haul routes, and up to seven per cent less fuel for long hauls in a truck-trailer combination. Such a combination also helps to improve traction and acceleration. It decreases noise level and brake wear at the other end. Working towards electrification of various CV actuation systems like the steering, ZF, in its push for e-mobility, is in the advanced stages of floating a new division to offer customers electrified driveline solutions from a single source.

Approach to CVs

Increasing its focus on flexible platform technologies for long-range plug-in hybrids and purely electric vehicles, ZF, informed, Wolf-Henning Scheider, CEO, ZF, is leveraging the system advantages to offer vehicle manufacturers a comprehensive electrified drive portfolio as well as worldwide development and production capacities under one roof. In view of this, ZF recently demonstrated, what it claims to be, industry’s first fully automated coupling assist system for heavy-duty tractor-semitrailer combinations which help trucks to find their allocated trailer and engage with it automatically. Of the opinion that such a tech would enhance safety, the Group leveraged image processing algorithms to enable 3D modelling with a mono digital camera. It engineered the system such that it controls the tractor in the longitudinal, lateral and vertical direction for an optimised coupling manoeuvre. Offering key assistance for the less experienced drivers, the system provides safety, efficiency and comfort for the driver and depot operatives. It also reduces 50 per cent coupling time.

Introducing Advanced Reversing Assist, an innovative ADAS solution that offers reversing assist function for truck-trailer combinations, ZF, in its quest for enhancing its CV technology portfolio is pursuing a clear safety angle as well. The Advanced Reversing Assist innovative ADAS solution features a trailer-mounted rear camera and a first-of-its-kind articulation sensor which covers the blind spot behind the trailer. The system also features a unique sensor cleaning concept to ensure clear camera view. Both, ADAS and coupling assist, it is said, will help reduce risk of accidents, risk of time delays and also reduce the repair costs associated with the damages. Its advanced vehicle motion control based on Wabco’s Autonomous Driving Open Technology (ADOPT) software platform developed for automated vehicle operations helps increase safety, efficiency and operational productivity. Designed to support automated driving modes, it also provides instant, precise manoeuvring and stable vehicle control.


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