With sunshine in the tank and our suspension

Electronically adjustable racing suspension for the World Solar Challenge

With its solar-powered racing cars, Bochum University of Applied Sciences in Germany has already won multiple prizes for best design in the World Solar Challenge, held every two years in Australia. Yet the technical level is also extremely high thanks to a long-standing partnership with thyssenkrupp. Now, the third car of the research collaboration, the thyssenkrupp blue.cruiser, powered by 5 m2 silicon cells, is aiming to complete the approx. 3,000-kilometre journey through the fifth continent from Darwin to Adelaide in record time. A suspension made by Group subsidiary BILSTEIN is also on board for the 14th edition of the event, to be held from 8 to 15 October 2017. For the first time ever, to develop this suspension, the engineers combined springs and shock absorbers from the MDS racing programme (Modular Damper System) with the electronic adjustment system ridecontrol®, which allows the driver to choose between sport and comfort mode.

Many of the other high-tech elements used also originate from the thyssenkrupp Group, ranging from the electrical steel in the wheel hub motor, the steel wheels, the back seat made of the sandwich material litecor® and the tubular trellis frame made of ultra high-strength steel to the steering system. The specialist fields of the students involved in the project are equally diverse, covering development, design and logistics. And ultimately, the super-streamlined car, 5 metres long but just 1.17 metres in height – by way of comparison, a VW Golf VII is 1.5 metres high – has to be driven by someone. Furthermore, the thyssenkrupp blue.cruiser is not a purist racing car, but a genuine four-seater. After all, the aim of the Challenge’s Cruiser class is to come up with practical concepts that can generate impetus for subsequent road vehicles.

With a top speed of 120 km/h, the Bochum University of Applied Sciences’ solar vehicle is ideally equipped for Australian highways, where speed limits rarely exceed 110. For the first time in the solar-car team’s history, which goes back to 2001, an all-wheel drive system has been developed via 4 wheel hub motors. This was also borne in mind when designing the suspension. Specifically tuned to the parameters of the blue.cruiser, the MDS is an ideal fit for this concept, and has an extremely compact design thanks to motorsport technology. Clearly labelled dials also allow independent changing of rebound and bump, meaning that the set-up can be altered from stage to stage. As well as being a key feature in terms of driving dynamics, integrated height adjustment also helps in the context of aerodynamic optimisation in the wind tunnel. So there’s every reason to believe that the blue.cruiser can hold its head high Down Under. BILSTEIN is keeping its fingers crossed for its dedicated team!