ZF’s active rear-axle control systems reach half million milestone


ZF is celebrating the 500,000th AKC (active kinematics control) system rolling off its production line just six years after the start of production. AKC is a rear-axle vehicle motion control system that is suitable for all drive types and can aid safety, especially in critical driving situations and during braking.

When driving slowly through narrow streets, the AKC steers contrary to the front wheels’ steering angle, which reduces the turning circle by up to 10%, making the car much easier to manoeuvre. At higher speeds of around 37mph (60km/h) and above, as well as during obstacle-avoidance manoeuvres, the system steers the rear wheels in the same direction as the front wheels, which helps improve directional stability and driving dynamics. AKC can also support automated driving and the necessary system redundancy, partially steering a vehicle without turning the front wheels.

ZF supplies the AKC system in two variants. The ‘dual adjuster’ version consists of one actuator positioned on each rear wheel. This design, which first went into volume production in 2013, is especially suitable for sports cars as it saves space on the central rear axle, where the engine, tank or other components typically sit in this type of vehicle. The central adjuster design – with a single, larger and centrally placed actuator – is ideal for larger cars, pick-ups or SUVs.

ZF is celebrating the half-million milestone at its plant in Lebring, Austria, only two years after reaching the 100,000 mark and six years after the start of production. This rapid growth in demand means that ZF is now looking to expand its production capacity.

“Currently, around 1,000 AKC systems roll off the line every day,” explained Robert Lamprecht, the Lebring plant manager. “To meet demand, we’re planning a considerable increase in capacity over the next few years.”

To support this, a new, third production line was installed recently. Another assembly line is already in the planning stages. In the long term, this expansion will enable ZF to produce a total of over one million AKC systems per year.

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Adam divides his time as an editor between the worlds of aviation and motoring. These worlds may seem a little diverse today, but autonomous technology and future urban mobility is bringing them ever-closer. Adam is also chairman of the Vehicle Dynamics International Awards.

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