ZF's New Modular Rear Axle Has Steering and Electric Drive Options

ZF  Modular Rear Axle 4 photos
Photo: ZF
ZF  Modular Rear Axle
ZF is known for making the gearboxes for some of the most amazing cars out there. However, the company makes other crucial components, including the rear axle steering system for the Porsche 911. So it's been a long dream of theirs to offer driveline and chassis technology, making them shop for car building.
They've crashed it with something called a Modular Rear Axle System. From the sound of things, it's designed for regular cars, not Jaguars and Ferraris, since the ZF axle replaces the twist beam axle and some double wishbone setups.

The basic axle is a further development of a Semi-Trailing Arm Rear Suspension (mSTARS) setup. ZF promises it will be cheap, and says it also provides more width between the arches for the trunk and fuel tank.

“With the new rear axle system, we are offering our customers wide-ranging applications in disparate vehicle segments. The solution can be used in hybrid, fuel-cell, and battery-powered vehicles and can be combined with conventional all-wheel modules or with our active rear axle steering AKC,” explains Uwe Cosmann, Head of the ZF Car Chassis Technology division.

Just because the technology hints at a cheap FWD car doesn't mean that it's limited to Fiestas and Corollas. In fact, it can be fitted with a conventional drive system or an electric one. It consists of an electric motor, the single-speed transmission with differential, housing, and cooling unit, as well as the power electronics complete with control software.

Toyota recently used such a system to give the RAV4 Hybrid and Prius all-wheel drive.

As a final party trick, ZF's axle can be combined with ZF's AKC (Active Kinematics Control) rear steering. In this case, the rear wheels actively assist the front steering angle. At low speeds, this gives the car a smaller turning radius, while at higher speeds it increases agility.
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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