The first air spring suspension for compact SUVs
Developing the air spring suspension system including level regulation presented the engineers with certain challenges. TrelleborgVibracoustic is the first supplier to succeed in fitting such a system into the space available in a sporty compact SUV in the premium segment. After a development time of two and a half years, the result is improved handling properties with optimized comfort, regardless of loading conditions. The system enables consistent ground clearance while driving and enables the body to be raised by up to 40 millimeters above the standard level of 190 millimeters for handling of rough terrain. This brings the maximum ground clearance at the higher setting to 230 millimeters. With the Sportplus or low level setting, the body is lowered by 10 millimeters from the normal level. The lower center of gravity improves drive quality and reduces fuel consumption at higher speeds.
In order to reduce unsprung masses the air springs at the five-link front axle are designed with high aluminum content and as a lightweight construction with plastic at the trapezoidal-link rear axle. A patented flexible mounting system is used at the front axle air spring suspension struts which compensate the conical and torsional movements. Stress in the dynamic area of the air spring is reduced and its rolling behavior is significantly improved. Suspension behavior is optimized thanks to harshness-optimized rubber composites combined with axial sleeve with external guide and a thin-walled cross ply sleeve at the rear axle. Thanks to the separate layout of the air springs and dampers at the rear axle, there is also significant loading width in the trunk.
The air suspensions are particularly well suited for SUVs as they will typically face many different road situations (urban, highway, off road…). The configurable body height can be used at its full extent. It seems that the biggest challenge was on the packaging side. Do you think that the SUV manufacturer had to do some adaptations of the surrounding components to fit the air spring suspension?