MOTOR Magazine

A MOTOR Magazine Newsletter
June 21, 2016

Contributed by Bob Chabot
Intuitive Intelligent Suspensions

Welcome to extra sensory suspension

New intelligent suspension systems deliver a superior level of driving experience into the hands of motorists. MOTOR recently visited with Tenneco Inc. at the 2016 VISION Hi-Tech Training & Expo to learn more about intelligent suspension systems, which prioritize vehicle handling, performance and driving enjoyment.

A combination of electronic and hydraulic technologies, intelligent suspension systems can adapt to changes in road surface hundreds of times per second — some as high as 500 times. This helps drivers adjust to road conditions intuitively, almost as if having a sixth sense.

"With an intelligent suspension, your car is continuously sensing both the road and the way you're driving in real time," explained Sandro Paparelli, Tenneco's vice president and general manager for Ride Performance. "It uses that data to deliver exactly the response that you, the customer, choose." (All Images — Tenneco Inc.)

Intelligent Suspensions Sense the Road Surface and Driving Style in Real Time

A conventional passive suspension system has only one fixed damper setting. Therefore its performance is always a compromise between comfort and handling. In contrast, intelligent suspension systems, which can be semi- or fully-active, adjust damper settings continuously in varying road and driving situations to provide maximum comfort and vehicle control.

When road conditions requiring frequent reactions are encountered, an intelligent suspension prioritizes vehicle handling. But when it's a matter of just enjoying the drive, it intuitively maximizes vehicle performance and driving enjoyment.

For example, during dynamic maneuvers like cornering and lane changes, an intelligent suspension automatically gives higher priority to vehicle control. It maximizes contact between the tires and changing road surfaces, making the vehicle more responsive and providing the driver with extra confidence in these challenging conditions.

Flexibility, Control and Comfort in One Package

Intelligent suspensions adapt to different road situations or ride preferences. Benefits include increased wheel-to-road contact on wet and broken road surfaces, improved vehicle controllability during lane changes and strongly reduced oscillations during obstacle avoidance maneuvers.

The company's Monroe Intelligent Suspension portfolio includes one base product and five more advanced intelligent suspension systems.

Tenneco representatives shared that the scope of its Monroe Intelligent Suspension portfolio and its scalability enable solutions for all vehicle segments. In a recent independent survey conducted for Tenneco, 90 percent of vehicle drivers rated the overall driving experience with an intelligent suspension system as very good or excellent — across all vehicle segments, from sub-compact to luxury models to sports utility vehicles.

The products in the portfolio include one base product and five more advanced intelligent suspension systems. Each features electronically controlled dampers that connect to an Electronic Control Unit (ECU). The ECU manages all the sensor inputs, such as wheel accelerations, body displacement and steering angle, to reconfigure the damper and hydraulic valve settings every 10 milliseconds to deliver optimal ride comfort and vehicle control in all road and driving situations.

Here's how the suspension alternatives are differentiated:
  • The base level adaptive solution, Dual Mode Selective Damping (Dual Mode), provides a default comfortable ride setting for daily traffic and a track-like performance setting on demand. The subcompact and compact segments are this products primary markets.
  • Three semi-active solutions have been designed for mid-range and higher-end vehicles feature electro-hydraulic valves. These include CVSAe (which features an external valve), CVSAi (which features an internal valve and CVSA2 (which features two independent external valves). Each successively offers more refinements that continuously sense the road and driving conditions to adjust the system in real time for a more comfortable and controlled ride.
  • Two fully-active solutions — CVSA2/Kinetic and ACOCAR active suspension solutions are designed for premium luxury cars, high-end sports cars and SUVs with off-road capability. CVSA2/Kinetic adds a unique roll-control system to the CVSA architecture that consists of hydraulic lines between the CVSA2 dampers, which replace the traditional mechanical anti-roll bars. The roll stiffness can be set by the driver. The ACOCAR system targets next generation premium vehicles. It is fully active suspension solution that features Active Vehicle Body Control of wheel and body motion; improved articulation, which increases traction; and the addition of external hydraulic power packs, which provide more control of roll, pitch and heave, resulting in superior handling, safety and comfort.

Tenneco's three most advanced intelligent suspension solutions — CVSA2, CVSA2/Kinetic and ACOCAR — are scalable. They share common components, damper design, sensors, electronic control units (ECUs), control strategies and production processes, which facilitate semi-active CVSA2 suspension systems being easily scaled up to the advanced and fully-active CVSA2/KINETIC or ACOCAR intelligent suspension systems.

Tenneco's "Scalable Architecture" concept leverages the power of Tenneco's latest generation CVSA2 technology. Two active hydraulic valves continuously and independently adapt the compression and rebound damping to road conditions and vehicle dynamics like speed, turning, cornering and driver inputs. The system provides optimum driving performance and improves ride smoothness and noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). The continuously controlled damping works with the "skyhook" principle for body control, with additional algorithms for wheel hop, steering, braking and acceleration control.

"The scalability of Tenneco's three most advanced intelligent suspension solutions — CVSA2, CVSA2/Kinetic and ACOCAR — is driving growth," explained Sandro Paparelli, Tenneco's vice president and general manager for Ride Performance. "They share the same lightweight damper design, main components, vehicle interfaces, electronics, control strategies and production processes. Scalable architecture allows OEs to offer different functionality for different car models built on a single vehicle platform in the most economic way. It also reduces the engineering effort and costs, compared to individual system development."

While ride control products aren't as visible as many everyday consumer items, they play a crucial role in protecting drivers and passengers by helping to provide safe steering, stopping and stability. Beginning with last month's Indianapolis 500 race, Tenneco has launched a 10,000-mile 2016 summer "Made for the Road Ahead" tour across North America. "Two Monroe Shockmobiles wll be a critical part of our'Everything Gets Old' campaign," said Denise Hanefeld, Tenneco's manager of marketing communications for its Monroe brand. The Shockmobiles will visit shops, community events, races, and other customer locations to help educate and remind vehicle owners to inspect their ride control components for wear."

"Tenneco is committed to meeting the future needs of automakers as they design vehicles capable of adapting to different environments, situations or ride preferences that offer consumers both comfort and performance, and the freedom to choose their driving experience," noted Paparelli. "Our intelligent suspension systems are already featured on more than 50 vehicle models in the marketplace today. In addition, several new models will feature our intelligent suspension systems. These include the 2017 BMW 3 Series, 2016 Ford Focus RS, 2016 Infiniti Q50 sedan and Q60 coupe, 2016 Renault Espace and others."

"Tenneco is also an active participant in Project EVE, the European Commission's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program that will develop high-tech ground vehicle systems," added Timothy Jackson, Tenneco's chief technology officer. "The project's partners will develop innovative vehicle brake, active suspension, tire pressure and other technologies that target improvements in safety, energy efficiency and driving comfort. The invitation to participate in this prestigious project recognizes Tenneco's expertise in active suspension technology, in particular our cutting edge ACOCAR system."

[Editor's note: For the latest diagnostic and automotive service insights, read MOTOR Magazine's June 2016 issue.]

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