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Lightweight air springs from Continental

With its air spring system featuring an integrated plastic roller piston, technology company Continental has taken a step toward reducing the weight of buses and trucks.

Continental says it is “confident” that the on-trend concept of lightweight construction harbors significant potential for air spring system solutions. Saving fuel, reducing CO2 emissions and ensuring outstanding ride comfort are just some of the potential benefits. This view is shared by others on the market, as one current example demonstrates. German bus manufacturer EvoBus is equipping its entire fleet of buses with a lightweight air spring featuring an integrated plastic roller piston.

These innovative roller pistons ensure outstanding ride comfort thanks to maximum utilisation of the inner air volume and their special design. Instead of steel or aluminum, plastic components made from polyamide are used. This helps to reduce weight without compromising the outstanding ride comfort.

The Continental solution is also helping EvoBus to meet the requirements of the EU’s Euro 6 emissions standard.

Factors such as ever-stricter legal requirements for pollutant emissions, the growing demand for electric vehicles and hybrids as well as the desire for enhanced ride comfort and optimised vehicle dynamics are pushing the lightweight construction industry to deliver new innovations, as Diethelm Bauch, who heads air spring systems in Continental’s commercial vehicles OE segment explains.

“We are facing some tremendous challenges in the automotive industry, with business models and markets undergoing major and rapid upheaval.” says Bauch.

“Lightweight design can make a key contribution, especially when it comes to energy efficiency and CO2 emissions. I see no end to this trend. Our lightweight air springs have in one fell swoop given bus and commercial vehicle manufacturers a solution that offers much greater design flexibility. Plastic offers much greater design freedom and the capacity for customised, comfort-oriented design.”

This is a key advantage, especially in the e-mobility segment where the batteries themselves are very heavy and so all the other components need to be designed to offset the weight of the batteries and extend the vehicle range.

The new lightweight air spring is designed for use in urban buses and coaches and generates weight savings of between two and 2.6 kilograms in each air spring module (depending on the axle type of the bus). This means that the air springs can partially offset the additional weight of the Euro 6 emission clean-up system. Compared with traditional steel pistons, lightweight air springs can reduce the weight of a two-axle urban bus by up to 15 kilograms, for example.

The combination of injection molding and a powerful, reliable joining process means that the inner volume of the piston can be utilised to the full, resulting in outstanding ride comfort. And what’s more, the lightweight air springs are exceptionally corrosion-resistant and durable.

The air springs can also be easily replaced with steel pistons without the need for any modifications to the vehicle interfaces.