Schaeffler‘s mechatronic rear-wheel steering system has made its debut in series production, introducing enhanced maneuverability in urban settings and improved cornering agility for a prominent electric SUV manufactured by a renowned carmaker. This innovative technology adds steering capability to the rear axle, resulting in enhanced handling in city traffic, increased stability during lane changes, and improved parking ease. Matthias Zink, CEO Automotive Technologies at Schaeffler AG, noted the company’s transformation from component supplier to complete steering system provider, driven by the strategic growth potential in this sector.
The core of Schaeffler’s rear-wheel steering system is the world’s first planetary roller gear, a precision mechanical component derived from the company’s in-house industrial technology expertise. This innovative gear configuration creates a compact, lightweight, and quiet system that seamlessly integrates into vehicles. The planetary roller gear distinguishes Schaeffler’s system from those of other manufacturers that typically utilize trapezoidal screw drives. This unique gear not only meets high safety standards but also offers enhanced efficiency, reduced friction, and quicker system response times.
Schaeffler’s rear-wheel steering system offers several advantages for electric vehicle drivers. It counteracts the challenges posed by longer wheelbases in electric vehicles due to underfloor battery placement. The system achieves this by turning the rear wheels in the same direction as the front wheels during lane changes at higher speeds, improving stability and safety. On tight bends, the system enhances agility by turning the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front wheels, effectively reducing the virtual wheelbase. This eases steering through bends and tight city spaces, simplifying maneuvers and parking. Additionally, the technology enhances the capabilities of automated lane change assist systems.
The Schaeffler rear-wheel steering system has been well-received in the market, with initial customers and several other automakers committed to integrating it into their vehicles. This innovative system is set to be featured in various vehicle models going into production by the end of 2023 and throughout 2024.