ZF says it is accelerating the development of its product and systems portfolio to enable intelligent commercial vehicles following the recent acquisition of WABCO.

At a digital briefing today (6 October), the German supplier outlined its technology including what it says is an industry-first autonomous trailer coupling function and energy-saving truck-trailer combination.

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EU requirements are for manufacturers to reduce new commercial vehicle CO2 fleet emissions by 15% before 2025, increasing to 30% by 2030, providing opportunities for ZF technology.

In addition, the EU requires new driver assistance systems approvals from 2022 and, from 2024, for new registrations to include advanced blind spot warning systems.

With the integration of Wabco’s advanced driver assistance and fuel-efficiency systems into its existing technology range, ZF is demonstrating the advantages of a product portfolio for trucks, buses and trailer OEMS as well as fleets.

“Wabco is a perfect strategic match for ZF and has enabled us to accelerate our global leadership as a future-oriented, full-range technology supplier and systems integrator serving the commercial vehicle industry,” said ZF Commercial Vehicle Control Systems Division head, Fredrik Staedtler.

“With a clear aim of making mobility and transport cleaner, safer and efficient, we are mobilising commercial vehicle intelligence to support customers world-wide. Just four months after acquiring Wabco, we have made substantial progress in implementing new development projects bringing together our significant combined system competencies.”

For his part, ZF Commercial Vehicle Technology Division head, Andreas Moser, added: “When it comes to transformative solutions for the next generation of commercial vehicles, we are at full speed.

“As a result, we can highlight new innovations such as the fuel-saving truck-trailer prototype , designed for energy-efficient driving. It combines a lightweight design and aerodynamics with optimised chassis space offering major benefits for future electrification strategies.”

ZF has also accelerated its commercial vehicle electrification programme. ZF’s AxTrax AVE electric axle has been in daily operation for a number of years and, this year, the Group will start volume production of the CeTrax electric central drive.

By 2023, a complete modular electric drive kit, with axle and central drives, will be established for buses and trucks of up to 44 tons. As with other ZF electric systems, it will be ‘open to technology,’ meaning it can be combined with a battery or fuel cell, for example.

ZF can now also extend its electrification expertise to trailers with the eTrailer. This semi-trailer, with integrated electric motor, can convert the conventional truck it is coupled with into a hybrid vehicle that consumes up to 16% less fuel. In addition, with the e-trailer, traction and acceleration improve while noise level and brake wear decrease.

ZF also demonstrated its approach to enhance commercial vehicle safety. Featured technology included the industry’s first fully automated coupling assistant, which enables trucks to find their allocated trailer autonomously and engage automatically.

Another innovation, Advanced Reversing Assist, a further enhanced reversing assist function for trucks, was also revealed. Both solutions help to reduce the risk of accidents, offer depots increased operating safety and efficiency while reducing the risk of time delays and repair costs that are typically associated with manoeuvring damage.

For automated vehicle operations, advanced vehicle motion control based on Wabco’s ADOPTTM (Autonomous Driving Open Technology) software platform, increases safety, efficiency and operational productivity. The ADOPT framework applies ZF’s experience in Autonomous Driving and Artificial Intelligence to the commercial vehicle world, helping to simplify and accelerate the development of Automated Driving applications for Virtual Drivers (Autonomous Driving Artificial Intelligence).

It is specifically designed to support automated driving modes by providing instant, precise manoeuvring and stable vehicle control in response to ‘real world’ automated driving.

ZF is also reinforcing its capabilities in digitalisation and vehicle connectivity to better serve the commercial vehicle fleets sector. The extended and integrated offering of truck, bus and trailer technologies provides ZF with access to a reservoir of vehicle systems data, which in turn power its growing portfolio of cloud-based applications and services.