This year will see two ‘firsts’ from Continental’s air-suspension business, both of them on cars built in the USA – a territory where Conti’s volumes are rising rapidly on the back of the successful Jeep Grand Cherokee project.
The first breakthrough comes in the form of another Chrysler product, the Dodge Ram, which will become the first pickup in the world to be available with OE-fitted air suspension when it goes on sale later in 2012.
Hot on the heels of that will come the Tesla Model S, the world’s first EV with air suspension. Conti’s system for this vehicle was largely assembled from existing components, but the application threw up some interesting NVH demands on the back of the electric powertrain’s quietness. As a result, Conti reworked the compressor’s controls to run it at times when other noise will mask its operation.
A key benefit of the Model S’s air suspension – which, Continental claims, weighs less than a steel-spring setup would have in this application – is its range-extending ability to lower the car at speed to reduce air resistance. If the Model S proves as successful as hoped then it’s thought that a planned sister model might get air suspension, too.