18-21 May 2023 Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre

ZF Innovates Electrically Driven Commercial Vehicles

Published: March 19, 2021

Years of research and development continues to place ZF ahead of the E-Mobility competition, with a suite of innovative solutions that cover a broad portfolio of commercial vehicle types.

ZF’s expertise has found favour with manufacturers in Oceania and the world over as a preferred systems supplier for electric driveline products, with an emphasis on safety, efficiency, and extended service life.

ZF’s commercial EV (Electric Vehicle) systems include electric drive motors, electronic control units (ECU), electrically assisted steering, lightweight rear axle suspension assemblies, energy management systems, and power electronics.

“For over 100 years, ZF has globally developed a reputation as a leader in automotive systems, and has subsequently been at the forefront of the move towards electrification in the commercial vehicle segment,” said Shane Trenbath, Technical Services Manager ZF Services Australia.

“What makes ZF unique is that the expertise for all of the different components of the EV system are available from a single source, which truly sets us apart.

“The recent integration of WABCO into the business further strengthens our position, with their experience in autonomous driving, safety and efficiency a perfect complement to our existing line-up.

“No matter the type of vehicle, from light commercial vehicles to articulated trucks, city buses and coaches, ZF’s E-Mobility range future proofs applications to the very highest standard.”

The Next Step for Public Transport: AxTrax AVE

The AxTrax AVE portal axle has already been installed in over 2,200 electric buses globally, which have subsequently travelled around 150 million kilometres with zero-emissions.

The system can be utilised in numerous configurations, including pure electric buses, hybrid buses and trolleybuses, in both solo and articulated wheelbase configurations, with energy provided by battery, fuel cell, supercapacitor or mains supply.

Instead of a traditional driveline featuring an engine, transmission, prop shaft and a differential, the AxTrax AVE features a compact electrical engine installed within what would typically be the hub of the wheel.

Providing high-torque output, the system keeps weight low, while also saving space, which in turn allows for innovative interior designs, such as low floors right to the rear of the cabin.

The design means that the same tyre and wheel rim combinations can be used as previous, while disc brakes are installed in the typical location.

The system utilises regenerative braking, which tops up battery stores while saving on service brakes, with the overall system containing fewer moving parts that in turn simplifies the maintenance task.

Tuned specifically for each installation, the AxTrax AVE system features an inverter and the ZF EST 54 control unit, which manages power requests, recuperation and energy storage needs.

For Conventional Driveline Designs: ZF CeTrax

For manufacturers looking to integrate an electric drive system into their conventional vehicle designs, the CeTrax is a recent addition to the ZF range, opening up a host of installation options.

Bus manufacturers can utilise the system in both low-entry and high-floor applications, as well as for low-floor buses in combination with the AV 133 portal axle.

The ZF CeTrax is also suitable for replacing conventional internal combustion engines in various truck chassis.

With a maximum power output of 300 kilowatts and a top torque figure of 4,500Nm, CeTrax has the performance to overcome the toughest terrain.

Featuring tried and proven components from the ZF-EcoLife city bus transmission, the CeTrax is lighter and more compact than combustion engine options, all while allowing for the use of standard axles and common differential ratios.

Also under development is the CeTrax lite, ideal for minibuses, vans and light trucks, with the system delivered complete with an integrated ECU and inverter.

In Addition and Future Moves

The brains behind the ZF E-Mobility offering is the EST 54 control unit, which has proven its worth in the conventional ZF EcoLife transmission.

Managing all aspects of the electronic systems, the control unit features a diagnostic interface and can be adapted to vehicle-specific telematics platforms.

Also available is the ZF ReAx electrically assisted hydraulic steering system for heavy commercial vehicles. ReAx precision steering is an electronic control system that works with the hydraulic gear to improve the driving experience by making the vehicle easier to drive, reducing fatigue and improving safety. It also has the potential to enable automated driving and can be integrated with other driver assistance systems.

Meanwhile, the ZF eWorX product family offers a solution for fully electrified commercial vehicles which would typically rely on a PTO to utilise auxiliaries such as elevated working platforms, hoists, booms, refrigeration units and others.

Fully integrated into the electrics system to ensure peak performance and battery usage, the system can also power traditional work equipment that would typically run off 230 or 400V mains supply.

Currently being developed for trucks is the AXTrax electric drive axle, which will feature a fully integrated electric motor as an optional function of the automated manual transmission.

Electrification at ZF also goes beyond the actual vehicle drive, with the eTrailer a perfect example. This semitrailer with integrated electric motor can make every conventional truck a hybrid, and can consume up to 16 percent less fuel. Traction and acceleration also improve, while noise levels and brake wear decrease.

ZF’s entire suite of E-Mobility products are distributed and serviced locally by ZF Services Australia, with a nationwide network of product experts.

Further details are available at www.zf.com/au, or by calling 1800 ZF SALES (1800 93 72537).

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