Easyturn axle concept delivers a ridiculously tight turning circle

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

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