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.