ZF explores composites for lightweight truck-chassis design

Advancements in ultra-strong plastics show promise in decreasing vehicle weight, increasing fuel efficiency.

"Of course today OEMs have lightweight vehicles, and this could be one more option for them," he said. "Yes, we are a bit more expensive, but not as much as we thought at the beginning of the program."

ZF currently has one workshop producing the composite part, and testing continues on the internal ZF program. (The supplier is not working with MAN on the project, Bublies said, but it has shared with the OEM some of the results thus far.)

"The whole technology—composites—is a big item in the ZF Group," he said. "We have this central development center in Friedrichshafen, and they have their own experts that do this. So we are the business unit; we are the experts on the product, and we have at the central development center some experts for the material, for production, and then we have a joint team working on this program."

He is not certain when the part will make it to series production, stating "not next year; maybe in five years or so."

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