ZF's 'SUV' to address megatrends of efficiency, safety & automated driving

ZF’s 'Smart Urban Vehicle (SUV)' concept is aimed at addressing three key megatrends of efficiency, safety and automated driving.

Sumantra B Barooah By Sumantra B Barooah calendar 04 Jul 2015 Views icon3568 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

ZF's recent acquisition of USA's TRW Automotive catapulted the German auto component supplier from eighth to third spot in the global list of top 10 automotive suppliers (in terms of revenue). Both companies are now busy working on the integration process which will take 3-5 years for the process to complete.

Engineers of both companies are now looking to club together technologies and pitch stronger to OEMs. Speaking to Autocar Professional in Berlin,  Rudi von Meister, president of ZF's Asia-Pacific business, said that the TRW acquisition will now give ZF better opportunity to tap business from mass market vehicle makers. "We will provide complete solutions for mobility of the future," says von Meister. 1.6 billion Euros, or 5 percent of the combined turnover, is being invested annually on R&D to develop those solutions.

Smart Urban Vehicle to address megatrends 

As part of that strategy, ZF has developed a 'Smart Urban Vehicle (SUV)' concept, which it showcased for the first time in Berlin. The concept is aimed to address three key megatrends of efficiency, safety and automated driving. The 'SUV' offers enhanced manoeuvrability with a new front axle concept which turns 75 degrees and has electric motors close to the wheel.

Two semi-automated driver assistance functions provide additional comfort/convenience as well as safety and efficiency: Smart Parking Assist manoeuvres the vehicle into virtually any small parking space – remote-controlled at the push of a button using mobile devices such as a smartphone or smartwatch. Comfortable, efficient motoring is possible with the concept vehicle thanks to the cloud-based PreVision Cloud Assist assistance function. Where necessary, the system reduces the drive torque, for instance, in good time before entering the bend and thus throttles back the speed without any mechanical braking. The driver is also in direct contact with the Smart Urban Vehicle via the steering wheel: The hands-on detection function covers the entire steering wheel and thus forms the basis for assistance and automated driving functions. An OLED display in the driver's direct field of view provides the driver with additional information.

Semi-automated assistance functions and remote control options are some of the other features that makes the concept a good new option for urban mobility. The concept is based on the Suzuki Splash (Maruti Ritz), which reflects that ZF would be targeting OEMs of such compact cars in India too.

The 'SUV' is one key example of ZF's vision for the future. Transmission is one of ZF's areas of strength. With the emergence of a market for automated manual transmission in India, it is a matter of time that ZF offers its product in that space. The company is in "technical talks" with at least one OEM in India.

Both ZF and TRW earns around 20 percent of their global sales from Asia-Pacific region. In the coming years, this is expected to grow even stronger than before as ZF is working on showing 'the power of 2(square)'.

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