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Transmission maker develops clever prototype: ZF Smart Urban Vehicle

German gearbox and automotive parts manufacturer ZF has wheeled out a compact car prototype to showcase some of its innovative ideas for city mobility.

ZF Smart Urban Vehicle-auto parking

Dubbed the Smart Urban Vehicle, it encompasses ideas that are all about making city-living easier. Parking is a cinch thanks to its very compact dimensions and a Smart Parking Assist system. Using 12 ultrasound and two infrared sensors, the car can parallel and perpendicular park all by itself.

The driver can leave the car and monitor where it finds a parking space via a smartphone or smart watch, in a similar fashion to the forthcoming BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

An innovative front-axle allows steering angles of up to 75 degrees, meaning it is capable of a U-turn without crossing onto the other side of the road.

The rear axle utilises what ZF calls eTB (electronic Twist Beam), with a traditional torsion beam suspension setup flanked by two compact 40kW electric motors. This combines the propulsion and suspension systems into one module.

Completing the package is PreVision Cloud Assist. This adds to existing GPS-based driver assistance systems by also incorporating current vehicle position measured on the cloud. For example, if the driver follows the same route every day, the system can then calculate optimum speed for bends and torque load from the electric motors.

ZF Smart Urban Vehicle-systems

This, in addition to the front axle layout and the cloud system, are all examples of systems that could eventually be adopted by any of ZF’s various carmaker clientele in the near future.

Mitchell is a contributing journalist and features writer at PerformanceDrive. He has been a passionate petrol-head from a very young age. He is excited by the future of the industry, and considers himself as a bit of a fanatic when it comes to the technical aspects of cars. He is also fascinated by new cars that are popping up in developing markets.