Commercial Vehicles

ZF presents outlook and modular drive system


In a virtual press event, ZF presented the company’s general outlook and provided details on its planned electrification activities in the commercial vehicle sector.

The German supplier ZF announced that it would develop a modular electric drive system with axle and central drives for buses and trucks up to 44 tons by 2023 at the latest, as well as an e-Trailer, a semitrailer tractor technology carrier and autonomous applications for commercial vehicles.

Like other ZF e-systems, the modular electric drive system that ZF is developing will be open to technology – meaning that the drive system is compatible with either batteries or fuel cells.

A world premiere was celebrated for a semitrailer tractor technology carrier which combines lightweight construction and aerodynamics with a chassis optimized for installation space. The latter describes an important approach to provide space for all future types of electrification. The technology carrier is the result of ZF’s acquisition of Wabco just four months ago.

With its new eTrailer, ZF is also expanding its expertise to the entire vehicle combination. The ZF e-Trailer has an integrated electric motor turns any conventional truck into a hybrid vehicle that can then consume up to 16 per cent less fuel. The e-Trailer is a semi-trailer trailer with an integrated electric motor. Wabco presented the prototype of such a trailer in 2018 and was acquired by ZF four months ago.

“This trailer (…) transforms any conventional truck into a hybrid vehicle that consumes up to 16 per cent less fuel,” says ZF. Also, the eTrailer improves traction and acceleration while reducing noise levels and brake wear. ZF says that with the e-trailer, traction and acceleration improve while noise level and brake wear decrease.

ZF’s acquisition of Wabco has enabled the automotive supplier to accelerate the development of its product and systems portfolio to enable “intelligent commercial vehicles”.

Wabco has also enabled ZF to move into automated vehicle operations, advanced vehicle motion control based on Wabco’s ADOPTTM (Autonomous Driving Open Technology) software platform, which it says increases safety, efficiency and operational productivity. ZF says that the ADOPT framework allows ZF to apply its expertise in Autonomous Driving and Artificial Intelligence to the commercial vehicle world, which helps to simplify and accelerate the development of Automated Driving applications for Virtual Drivers (Autonomous Driving Artificial Intelligence).

At the end of May, ZF bought the US supplier and transferred it to its new Commercial Vehicle Control Systems division. The new division has approximately 12,000 employees at 45 locations worldwide and is closely integrated with the existing Commercial Vehicle Technology Division, the Aftermarket Division, and the global development team.

“Just four months after acquiring Wabco, we have made substantial progress in implementing new development projects bringing together our significant combined system competencies. When it comes to solutions for transformation and the next generation of commercial vehicles, we are at full speed,” confirms Andreas Moser, Head of the Commercial Vehicles Technology Division.

Independent of the takeover, ZF has already had the AxTrax AVE electric axle on the market in the commercial vehicle sector for several years. And this year, the Group will start volume production of a second drive for public transport: the CeTrax electric central drive. One of the first customers is the Polish bus manufacturer Solaris, which intends to install the CeTrax in its new Urbino 15 LE electric bus. Solaris said at the launch that the drive would power the middle axle with an output of 300 kW.


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