Continental develops first air suspension system for all-electric vehicle

Continental develops first air suspension system for all-electric vehicle

Continental has developed its first air suspension system for an «all-electric vehicle».


Following a shortened development phase, the first series delivery of the air suspension system started in spring 2012 to a manufacturer of electric vehicles.

Continental’s experience of air suspension systems goes back more 
than 30 years and the company has already seen its chassis 
technology installed in luxury and other high-end vehicles as well as 
in minivans, pick-ups and vans.

The vehicle is the first purely electric vehicle to be equipped with a Continental air suspension. «The air suspension system we 
developed had to meet strict electric driving requirements but without 
neglecting aspects like comfort, range and driving pleasure», said Christian Hilgers, Project Manager in the Segment Suspension 
Systems in Continental’s Chassis & Safety Division.

This placed great 
demands on the air suspension system: low weight and low energy consumption with at least the same functionality as in other projects, 
and all to a tight schedule. In order to meet all these requirements the 
electric vehicle manufacturer consistently made use of Continental’s 
expert knowledge of air suspension systems. Consequently, it was 
Continental’s development of a closed air supply system with a high-
performance compressor and solenoid valve block which was 

«The closed air supply system pumps the air at high pressure back 
and forth in a circuit between the reservoir and the air springs. 
This allows a virtually unlimited number of rapid, consecutive changes 
in pressure levels», explained Christian Steinmann, Head of Segment 
Suspension Systems the practical benefit of this system. Changes to 
the ride height are either made automatically by the control 
electronics depending on the vehicle’s speed or by the driver at the 
touch of a button.

Right from the start of the project, the vehicle plus air suspension 
were designed as a coordinated package and, together with the 
manufacturer, the most important components and application 
parameters were specified. Many of the air suspension design’s 
functions had already been proven in previous projects, making it 
possible to produce a design concept in very quick time.

Software modules assembled from the so called baseline – a data-base containing functionalities which had already been tested and 
approved – were used for the Chassis Control Unit (CCU). Only the 
relevant communication and diagnostic parts were developed project- specifically and then the software functions were applied. The result 
is an integrated system, lighter than steel springs, which favors low 
energy consumption. The option of lowering vehicle height also leads 
to lower air resistance, reducing energy consumption still further.

The components for the all-electronic vehicle electronic air 
suspension system are produced at the Morganton site in North 
Carolina in the USA. The system emphasizes Continental’s expertise 
in developing air suspension systems individually tailored to vehicle 
models within short project timeframes and in supplying systems 
tailored to international customer needs throughout the world. 
Developments in electronics and innovative air bellows technology 
make it possible to design chassis which offer drivers maximum 
driving safety combined with superb comfort and sporty handling.



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