A different kind of SUV: High agility, zero local emissions

July 05, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
With a highly maneuverable and likewise highly connected electric subcompact, ZF Friedrichshafen makes his claim to join the premier league of the automotive suppliers. The Smart Urban Vehicle (SUV) concept study is designed to demonstrate what is possible today with existing technologies once they only get connected.

The exceptional high maneuverability of the Smart Urban Vehicle results from the interplay of multiple approaches. First, the two electric motors at the rear axle contribute to steering through torque vectoring which distributes the drive force individually to the two rear wheels. The innovative front axle design enables steering angles of up to 75 degrees, enabling the vehicle to perform U-turns on a standard two-lane street.

The high maneuverability of the Smart Urban Vehicle is complemented by its rather agile electric powertrain. The two electric motors develop a performance of 40 kilowatts each, resulting in a top speed of 150 kmph (93 mph) – not exactly a typical speed for the average urban traffic, but on highways ZFs demo vehicle keeps up with the other traffic.

Fig. 1: Available technology, reassembled: ZF's Smart Urban Vehicle contains a front axle enabling a steering angle of 75 degrees, assisted by the torque vectoring feature of the two electric motors at the rear axle in a near-wheel arrangeent. The battery sits near the rear axle.