With Continental, Electrically Enhanced Steering is Possible Even for Heavy Vehicles

Nov 6, 2008

The scalable power pack consisting of control electronics and an electric motor expands the possibilities for use in existing 12-volt onboard power systems – drivers experience more comfort while saving 0.4 liters of fuel every 100 kilometers.

Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The Chassis & Safety Division of the international automotive supplier Continental has developed a modular power pack, comprising of control electronics and an electric motor, which makes it possible to install electrically enhanced steering in large sedans or SUVs with existing 12-volt onboard power systems. To date, this feature was predominantly installed in the compact and small car bracket. Electrically enhanced steering systems provide the driver with additional comfort and driving enjoyment while at the same time improving vehicle dynamics. One positive side effect: Electrically enhanced steering systems save a tangible amount of fuel.

Electrically enhanced steering systems provide the driver with additional comfort and driving enjoyment while at the same time improving vehicle dynamics. Scalable power pack enables electric steering for heavy vehicle classes

Until now, technical factors limited the use of electric steering systems predominantly to lightweight vehicle classes, while heavy sedans and SUVs remained the domain of hydraulic systems. With its innovative power pack based on a modular structure, Continental meets even the tough requirements that these heavy vehicles impose on electrically enhanced steering systems. Alongside the strong and yet highly compact electric motor, the short-term peaks in power output also call for a robust electronic control structure that can withstand heavy strain. The hardware components of the steering enhanced system developed by Continental are scalable, meaning that they can be adjusted flexibly to the vehicle class; the same also applies to the electric motor, which can supply up to 16 kilograms Newton meters of supporting force in the overall steering system. Alongside its benefits in everyday operation, electrically enhanced steering also offers advantages for automotive manufacturers. Component warranty periods can be extended because electrically enhanced steering systems do not require refills of hydraulic oil and thus there are no service intervals. Electrically enhanced steering is also easier to integrate into individual models than hydraulic servo steering systems because it requires significantly less space.

Enhanced comfort and vehicle dynamics for the driver due to additional features

The further benefits of electric steering include various comfort functions that can be used only with this system. It permits direct access in order to assist and support the driver more than has ever before been possible. Driver assistance systems are possible only with electric steering, including the Lane Keeping System, which warns drivers when they are about to depart from the lane. In this feature, the control electronics can put the vehicle back on course within the lane by means of a planned, supporting intervention in the vehicle’s steering. In addition, the complex control electronics make it possible to adjust the steering to the current driving circumstances. When the vehicle is travelling slowly, such as in the city, the steering system provides more assistance then on fast curves on the highway. For SUVs, the steering characteristics can also be adjusted to the particularities of off-road driving. Whether on the road or off: The driver receives optimum feedback on the current driving situation from the steering system at all times.

The big advantage of electric drives: substantial fuel savings

The electric steering system supports the driver’s steering motions, by an electric motor connected to the steering column increasing the steering wheel torque in accordance with the driving speed and the automotive manufacturer’s individual settings. In contrast to conventional servo steering, in which a hydraulic system handles this task, the electrical system has a number of advantages: The electric motor only has to be activated when steering assistance is actually required, and that takes place in just fractions of a millisecond. In a hydraulic system, however, the buildup of pressure always has to be maintained within the system so that the steering assistance system can support the driver anytime. To accomplish this, the hydraulic pump has to receive a constant supply of drive energy from the engine. What’s more, the electric steering system requires that fewer components be installed into the vehicle, plus hydraulic oil is not needed. This combination of savings on weight and substantially lower demand for energy to drive the steering assistance system yields fuel economy gains of 0.4 liters for every 100 kilometers. For that reason, and because of the legal requirements concerning reduced CO2 emissions, systems of this type will increasingly take hold on the vehicle market in the years to come, largely displacing conventional hydraulic servo steering. “That means that this technology developed by Continental is another building block toward achieving our ambitious CO2 emissions reduction goals in the next few years. The possible scalability the technology offers means that we will be able to use it in all vehicle segments,” emphasizes Dr. Peter Laier, Executive Vice President of the Chassis Components Business Unit within the Chassis & Safety Division at Continental.

Lightning-fast market development: electrically enhanced steering in high demand

Electrically enhanced steering will noticeably replace conventional hydraulic systems over the next few years. “For 2015, we expect that electric steering systems will hold a market share of 75 to 80 percent in new cars worldwide,” says Laier. In the United States, two vehicle manufacturers plan to produce all passenger cars in the future exclusively with electrically enhanced steering systems.

Press Release (MS-Word, 60 KB)

Press Image to the issue Electrically Enhanced Steering 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

E-Mail: nicole.geissler@continental-corporation.com