ZF company invents innovative car axle with 80° steering angle

If you are a little over 30, your first car may not yet have power steering, in short DA… And you had to sweat to make a U-turn, get out of a difficult situation. On some vehicles, it was sometimes a real battle between man and machine. A little later, DA appeared, which made it easier for us to go into hairpin turns. But sometimes you still have to do a lot of maneuvering to get out of a space, especially if the idiot who parked behind you hit you in the bumpers! All that tedious maneuvering may be a thing of the past thanks to mechanics who invented an axle that can achieve steering angles of 80 degrees.

What is this German invention?

This innovation goes to the German auto parts manufacturer ZF, which has developed a concept with a strut-suspended front axle, which allows the front wheels to turn up to 80 degrees. The name of this invention is EasyTurn, it allows you to perform maneuvers and park effortlessly or almost thanks to a very large steering angle. One of the company’s managers explains: “This innovative front axle system is advantageous for passenger and goods transport vehicles, especially in tight city centers, parking lots, narrow passages, construction sites, traffic jams or loading areas.”

Turning and parking maneuvers are almost effortless thanks to the extremely high steering angle. Image credit: ZF

Why could this invention change our lives?

To start, remember that the steering angle is defined by the diameter of the circle drawn by the vehicle, when its steering wheel is turned to maximum. You will notice on your wheel that it does not allow you to set the wheel at the right angle or almost… 80° steering, it is therefore much higher than what is currently available. Only a few construction machines have this type of axle.

“With EasyTurn, steering angles of up to 80 degrees are possible. Turning and parking maneuvers are almost effortless thanks to the extremely high steering angle. The innovative front axle system is advantageous for passenger and goods transport vehicles, especially in narrow city centres, car parks, narrow corridors, construction sites, traffic jams or loading areas.” ZF

But the steering angle also determines the degree of maneuverability of a vehicle and allows you to adjust your trajectory in turns. The ZF Easyturn concept looks really strange in action: it looks like the wheels are coming off the axle! ZF’s new system, if it were to come to market, would require wider wheel arches than we are familiar with, and this is quite logical, as the wheels would turn more space.

The example of the BMWi3

In this video, a BMWi3 can be seen backing into super tight parallel parking spaces at ridiculous angles. It returns to its position almost without maneuvering… Ditto for a U-turn: it’s a breeze, you almost have the impression that it could do a U-turn on the spot!

“A U-turn instead of a three-point turn (…) ZF doubles the possible steering angle for the current front axles from around 40 degrees to 80 degrees. (…) EasyTurn, for example, reduces the turning circle of a typical medium-sized passenger car from ten to seven meters (…) As EasyTurn offers an extremely high steering angle, a small movement of the steering wheel would cause a large deflection with a conventional steering system. With the SbW system, we can make the steering react differently depending on the driving speed, so the steering is less sensitive at high speeds than when manoeuvring” Heidsieck, Head of Axle Systems Development at Vehicle Motion Control System House

No idea about the possible commercialization of this invention, because first it would be necessary to readjust all the bodies so that the wheel arches adapt… On the other hand, EasyTurn could equip urban transport vehicles, or the new models that will be released in the future. A brilliant system, isn’t it? More information: zf.com.

Innovative front axle system benefits both passenger and commercial vehicles
The innovative front axle system benefits both passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Image credit: ZF

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