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by Tim Beissmann

Best known for its automatic transmissions, German component manufacturer ZF has unveiled a complete concept car, dubbed the Advanced Urban Vehicle.

ZF’s pint-sized Advanced Urban Vehicle was developed from the ground up and built entirely in-house, allowing the company to experiment with a host of innovative drive systems and technologies.

The prototype’s ‘electric Twist Beam’ (eTB) rear axle is the heart of the drivetrain, with semi-independent rear suspension and a 40kW electric motor located at the wheels. Power is sent to the motors via a traction battery that’s housed in three modules on the front and rear axles.

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The front axle has tricks of its own, with the wheels capable of turning up to 75 degrees, confining its turning circle diameter to just 6.5 metres and allowing it to perform U-turns on standard two-lane roads.

The steering movements at the front axle are supported by torque vectoring at the rear, which distributes the drive force individually to the rear wheels, allowing the Advanced Urban Vehicle to be manoeuvred easily into tight parking spaces and enabling it to take off with large wheel deflection.

ZF Smart Parking Assist can autonomously locate suitable parallel and perpendicular parking spaces and drive into them, taking control of all steering, throttle and brake inputs and requiring the driver to only press and hold a button on a device such as a phone or smart watch.

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The company’s PreVision Cloud Assist function aims to make each drive smoother and more controlled. Vehicle position, speed and lateral and longitudinal acceleration for every journey is stored in the cloud and if the driver takes the same route again it can calculate the optimum speed for an approaching bend and can throttle back torque early before entering it.

The driver is kept informed about the system’s intervention via the multifunction steering wheel, which features an OLED display and is equipped with hands-on detection (HOD) technology that ZF says creates the basis for assistance and automated driving functions designed to reduce the driver’s workload, such as in stop-go rush-hour traffic.




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