The Automotive Suspension Systems Report

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The market for light vehicle suspension systems has been changing rapidly over the past few years as technology has enabled levels of comfort and roadholding to improve well beyond the boundaries of the compromise between comfort and safety that once effectively limited performance.

Today, as part of an integrated chassis, advanced suspension systems are a key area through which one vehicle can be differentiated from another and on which OEMs look to build the essential ‘DNA” of a vehicle.

About this report

This report examines the key market drivers in this sector and details materials considerations, increasing electricification, challenges and barriers, chassis and suspension weight reduction and suspension performance.

Furthermore the report looks at kinematics & elastokinematics along with the move from active to passive suspension. The report goes on to include detailed sections on suspension element technology and dampers & shock absorbers.

Finally the report provides detailed profiles and analysis of 13 key suppliers active in this sector.


Key market drivers

Fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions

The United States
The European Union
Other countries

Materials considerations

Increasing electrification

Systems integration

Challenges and barriers

Chassis and suspension weight reduction

Suspension performance

Design compromise

Moving from passive to active suspension

Kinematics and elastokinematics

The ‘Skyhook control strategy

Suspension element technology

Control arms
Front suspension
Rear suspension
Spring systems
Pneumatic and hydropneumatic spring systems
Electronic spring systems
Composite springs

Dampers/shock absorbers

Shock absorber design
Acceleration Sensitive Damping
Gas charged shock absorbers
Position Sensitive Damping
Dynamic Ride Control
BWI’s manual selectable ride
BWI’s Bi-State real time damping system
Adaptive damping system
Frequency Dependent Damping (FDD)
ZF preloaded valve and vario damper technology
ZF Sachs Continuous Damping Control
BWI MagneRide: Magneto-rheological damping
Stabilisers or anti-roll bars
Ball joints

Supplier Profiles

BWI Group
Magneti Marelli
NHK Spring
Tower International

Table of Figures

Figure 1: Conventional suspension compromises [Source: Daimler]
Figure 2: Average power consumption 1990 – 2010 for mid size and luxury cars [Source: AABC Europe]
Figure 3: Electrical power requirements for NEDC and actual customer requirements for various vehicle classes [Source: BMW]
Figure 4: The extended performance envelope for fully active suspension compared to conventional passive and semi-active systems [Source: TU München]
Figure 5: Fuel economy standards to 2015 for selected countries (US mpg) [Source: Various]
Figure 6: The impact of weight on fuel consumption [Source: ZF Sachs]
Figure 7: Cost comparison of lightweight vehicle structures [Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology]
Figure 8: Additional costs entailed by tougher European CO2 legislation for a vehicle with emissions of 161g per km [Source: TRW]
Figure 9: Average profit per vehicle versus CO2 compliance costs [Source: A T Kearney]
Figure 10: The relationship between functions and control units to 2014 [Source: ADL]
Figure 11: The growth of integrated functions [Source: BMW]
Figure 12: X-by-wire roadmap [Source: Ricardo]
Figure 13: An active stabiliser bar system [Source: BWI Group]
Figure 14: BMW’s Dynamic Drive system [Source: BMW]
Figure 15: Ford Focus control blade rear suspension [Source: Ford]
Figure 16: AAM’s I-Ride suspension module [Source: AAM]
Figure 17: Contribution to weight reduction [Source: Centro Ricerche Fiat]
Figure 18: Conventional suspension compromises for passive and active suspension systems [Source: Daimler]
Figure 19: The complex functional harmony required to provide driving quality [Source: Ford]
Figure 20: A schematic of active and semi-active suspension [Source: RMIT]
Figure 21: A schematic showing the Mercedes-Benz Pre-Scan technology [Source: Daimler]
Figure 22: Mercedes Benz’s Pre-Scan technology [Source: Daimler]
Figure 23: Axle and multi-axle computer simulation [Source: IAV Automotive Engineering]
Figure 24: A schematic representation of the skyhook control strategy [Source: ZF Sachs]
Figure 25: Suspension control arm configurations [Source: ZF Friedrichshafen]
Figure 26: Typical control arm designs [Source: ZF Friedrichshafen]
Figure 28: Continental's 4-Corner air suspension system [Source: Continental]
Figure 29: CO2 reduction through the use of pneumatic suspension systems
Figure 28: Continental's air suspension system [Source: Continental AG]
Figure 30: Bose's fully electromechanical front suspension model [Source: Bose]
Figure 31: Sogefi’s composite springs [Source: Sogefi]
Figure 32: Acceleration sensitive damping [Source: Tenneco]
Figure 33: Audi RS5 chassis featuring dynamic ride control [Source: Audi]
Figure 34: suspension motion sensors [Source: BWI]
Figure 35: A schematic of Tenneco’s Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension [Source: Tenneco]
Figure 36: A schematic of Tenneco’s integrated Kinetic H2 CES system [Source: Tenneco]
Figure 37: Comparison between standard and pre-loaded valve performance [Source: ZF Sachs]
Figure 38: Graph showing the range in which CDC can continuously vary damping forces in compression and rebound [Source: ZF Sachs]
Figure 39: Graph showing the range in which CDC can continuously vary damping forces in compression and rebound [Source: ZF Sachs]
Figure 40: CDC dampers with internal and external valves [Source: ZF Sachs]
Figure 42: Cross section of a MagneRide actuator [Source: BWI]
Figure 43: Comparison of force-velocity characteristics of a MagneRide damper, typical variable valve dampers and a passive damper [Source: BWI]
Figure 44: ZF Sach’s Active Roll Stabilisation system [Source: ZF Sachs]

Table of Tables

Table 1: Weight reduction in lightweight shock absorber assemblies [Source: ZF Friedrichafen]
Table 2: Front axle design proportions, worldwide light passenger vehicles (%) [Source: ZF Friedrichshafen]
Table 3: Front axle design by segment, worldwide light passenger vehicles (%) [Source: ZF Friedrichshafen]
Table 4: Rear axle design proportions, worldwide light passenger vehicles (%) [Source ZF Friedrichshafen]
Table 5: Rear axle design by segment, worldwide light passenger vehicles (%) [Source: ZF Friedrichshafen] - See more at:

Read the full report:

The Automotive Suspension Systems Report

For more information:
Sarah Smith
Research Advisor at
Tel: +44 208 816 85 48

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