Automotive

Easyturn axle concept delivers a ridiculously tight turning circle

Easyturn axle concept delivers a ridiculously tight turning circle
It does look a bit like the wheels are about to fall off, mind you
It does look a bit like the wheels are about to fall off, mind you
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The ZF Easyturn concept gives cars up to 80 degrees of steering angle for ultra-tight maneuvers
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The ZF Easyturn concept gives cars up to 80 degrees of steering angle for ultra-tight maneuvers
It does look a bit like the wheels are about to fall off, mind you
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It does look a bit like the wheels are about to fall off, mind you
It's an entire strut suspension angle concept
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It's an entire strut suspension angle concept
The ZF Easyturn system up close
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The ZF Easyturn system up close
View gallery - 4 images

US/German auto parts company ZF has released an innovative strut suspension front axle concept that allows the front wheels to turn up to a ludicrous 80 degrees, delivering incredibly tight u-turns and extraordinary agility for parallel parking.

The ZF Easyturn concept looks bizarre in action, you could swear the front wheels are about to fall off. Indeed, it's a system that needs to be carefully designed around, because you need an unusually large amount of space in the wheel wells to get that kind of angle. It's only appropriate for front wheel drive vehicles, because pushing from the back with the front wheels at 80 degrees would have obvious consequences.

In a promotional video, ZF has fitted the system to a BMW i3 and shows off some crazy handling, backing into super-tight parallel parking spots at unholy angles, then straightening up in a remarkably unfussed manner. One piece of top-down footage shows the i3 making a u-turn in what we'd estimate at less than 3.5 times its own width. Back of the envelope, that's a turning circle of about 6.2 meters (20.3 ft) – as compared to the standard i3's (already excellent) 9.9-m (32.5-ft) turning circle. Mind you, this concept car does also seem to have a small degree of rear wheel steering fitted as well.

The ZF Easyturn system up close
The ZF Easyturn system up close

Clearly, this kind of thing would be amazing for small cars around town. Realistically, it could be even more helpful on bigger cars that struggle even more with tight-space maneuvers.

There's no word as far as we can see about whether this is a production-ready innovation or just a concept. But ZF is a major tier-one parts supplier to the global automotive industry, turning over nearly US$40 billion last year, so if there's an appetite out there for this kind of thing, this company's in a good position to get it out there.

Chrck out the video below.

ZF Easyturn

Source: ZF Friedrichstafen

View gallery - 4 images
15 comments
15 comments
John Davidson
The turning circle looks great for U-turns, and taxis will love that. But when they park in that tight space, how does the car behind them in the parking row get out with cars now inches from its bumpers on either side?
Robt
Great as an urban getaway car!
claudio
cool, although probably it'd need some limitations to avoid turning the wheels 80° above a certain speed
Chase
Cool, now BMW drivers can bet T-boned by motorcycles and other motorists even faster when they do a u-turn straight out of a parallel parking spot without a turn signal or checking their mirrors.
stevendkaplan
That sounds overly complicated and prone to breakage due to too many possible points of failure. Not to mention the repair bill for fixing this mechanism will probably be quite high.
noteugene
I'm with Claudio on this. If they can do that, say 20 mph, great idea. Another potential obstacle, engine blocks will need to be narrower. Not good for American muscle cars but ok for electric vehicles. Am I wrong?
Jinpa
Most tires will straighten out the path of a car from a turn, but some are poor at that. This device should not be on a car that doesn't easily and rapidly do that path-straightening, or the car can unexpectedly continue a turn into an oncoming lane.
FB36
IMHO, All EVs (at least) need something like this & parallel parking needs to be done fully automated!
TechGazer
If parallel parking is the main use, I'd like to see this compared with a set of small wheels (3 would be enough) that lower to move the vehicle sideways. Complicating the main steering mechanism seems like it would result in expensive accidents. It just would.
Spud Murphy
So just how is the power getting to those front wheels? I can't see any driveshafts in that pic, and that's a hell of an angle for a CV to rotate through anyway.
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