Drive in comfort and safety on tarmac, gravel or over slippery terrain

Sep 8, 2008

Want to drive with confidence both on and off-road? The Electronic Air Suspension system adjusts the chassis and dampers to the immediate driving conditions in fractions of a second; Hill Descent Control (HDC) removes the element of fear from steep descents and with Hill Start Assist (HSA) even starting off uphill becomes child's play.

Berlin/Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The laws of physics cannot be ignored. They particularly apply to SUVs which have become so popular in recent years. The heavy weight and high center of gravity of these sports utility and off-road vehicles make them more difficult to control than sedans especially on bends, unless their drivers are assisted by intelligent suspension systems, including, for example, the Electronic Air Suspension system developed by Continental, the international automotive supplier. This system is an electronically controlled air-sprung chassis which adjusts damper and spring hardness to the immediate driving conditions; the benefits can, of course, be enjoyed by all other types of vehicles, not just by SUVs.

Hill Descent Control (HDC) removes the element of fear from steep descents and with Hill Start Assist (HSA) even starting off uphill becomes child's play. If the route is over poor roads, the air-sprung chassis provides excellent suspension comfort. If the chassis computer's sensor signals identify fast cornering, braking activity or even an obstacle-avoidance maneuver, dampers and springs are adjusted within fractions of a second to produce the most stable driving characteristics possible - and, consequently, a slightly more uncomfortable ride than usual. In addition, many other functions can be realized, such as lowering the chassis level for loading and unloading, to give the lowest possible luggage compartment loading edge, and raising the bodywork, so as to be able to drive up steep multi-story car park ramps without bottoming. Off-road vehicles in particular benefit from a further air suspension function: on roads the bodywork level is lowered, ensuring more stable handling characteristics and lower fuel consumption at high speeds; off-road the ground clearance can be increased.

Hill Descent Control: driving safely downhill

Downhill driving in an SUV in steep terrain, or on snow-covered, slippery mountain roads, is not without its perils because the vehicle's wheels must keep turning so that they can transmit sufficient lateral stability forces. If an inexperienced driver goes too fast downhill and brakes too firmly, the rear wheels lose this stability, the vehicle skids sideways and in the worst case can roll over. Hill Descent Control (HDC) can help to prevent this happening. Once Hill Descent Control is activated, the control electronics automatically adjusts the speed to a safe level; the vehicle will run downhill at a continuous speed of about 10 km/h, leaving the driver to concentrate fully on steering it over the terrain.

Hill Start Assist: taking the stress out of hill starts

The hill start: many motorists shudder when they think back to that driving lesson. And one of the least enjoyable aspects of day-to-day driving is having to stop on the ramp leading up to the multi-story car park, perform contortions to take the parking ticket from the machine and then start off again as quickly as possible because the line of weekend traffic waiting for the car park is getting longer and longer. Juggling the hand brake and the clutch demands some practice if you don't want to stall the engine or provoke impatient hooting. The Hill Start Assist (HSA) utilizes the ABS and ESP® sensors, converting these two safety assistants into a comfort feature – although it must also be said that HSA is not merely a comfort feature but one which clearly contributes to more relaxed and therefore safer driving. These sensors allow the vehicle's movement to be monitored. If the driver stops on a hill, the electronics keep the brakes applied for a few seconds; the vehicle remains stationary and does not roll backwards. Only when the driver engages the clutch and presses the accelerator the electronics will release the brake and allow the car to move forward – it does not roll backwards when starting off and the engine most certainly does not stall.

Press Release (MS-Word, 60 KB)

Press Image to the issue Drive in comfort in the Continental Media Center. Another image you will find here .


Nicole Geissler

External Communications


Division Chassis & Safety

Guerickestraße 7

60488 Frankfurt am Main

Phone: +49 69 7603-8492

Fax: +49 69 7603-3945