Jan 23, 2024


The patented suspension technology has the potential to revolutionize the handling and comfort of upcoming Audi sportscars

Achieving a good ride is by far one of the top priorities for any automobile company, especially when it's a brand synonymous with luxury and performance. This is why most companies today are pursuing new suspension technologies in order to further improve dampening during everyday driving scenarios. The introduction of the magnetorheological suspension back in 2002 revolutionalized the way a sportscar could offer an executive sedan or a limo’s worth of comfort and finesse.

Now though, brands seem to have found a way to further improve upon this technology via the use of electricity. More specifically, Audi has filed a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to protect a new invention that would see the shock absorber controlled using induction. However, before taking deep dive into understanding how this system works, we need to take a close look at the system which this appears to have taken inspiration from.

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The Ferrari Purosangue is truly a one-of-a-kind vehicle for Ferrari and is strictly marketed as a Ferrari Utility Vehicle and not an SUV. For a car as unique as the Purosangue, Ferrari decided to work together with the wizards at Multimatic who designed a suspension system by taking their existing active spool-valve dampers and enhancing each of them with an electric motor.

Maranello calls this system Ferrari Active Suspension Technology (FAST), while the suspension supplier has named its innovation Multimatic TrueActive Spool Valve Dampers (TASV). So how does this system work you may ask? Multimatic states that this active system is "capable of exerting enough force to move the entire vehicle body in anticipation of a road disturbance or driving maneuver to achieve optimal handling performance and ride comfort in all conditions."

The system basically preemptively predicts a bump, undulation, crest, corner, or any other situation that could upset the car and immediately adjusts each individual damper on the vehicle so that the road imperfection or corner cannot destabilize the car. Additionally, this system allows the car to have a flat yet comfortable ride and eliminates the need for anti-roll bars or dynamic ride height and rate adjustment systems.

Each TASV damper consists of a liquid-cooled, 48-volt, three-phase, brushless electric motor that channels additional force through a unique twin-lead ball screw and gearbox assembly into the damper shaft. Within each damper actuator assembly, an onboard motor control module is controlled by a vehicle dynamics controller that’s programmed to counteract any road imperfections that could affect stability.

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From the published patent document, it appears that the Audi system would function similarly to the Ferrari Purosangue’s FAST system but without the predictive element. This is because the document shows a shock absorber with a damper rod that can be moved inside a damper tube and the new elements are the two magnetic cores housed within the damper rod that work in tandem with the two or more coils located in the damper tube.

The way this would function is that the rod moves up and down the tube and at the same time, the magnetic cores would interact with the coils therefore offering several potential benefits. Therefore, the major differences between the two systems lie in the fact that one is dependent on the electric motor and onboard motor module whereas the other relies on the magnetic cores and coils.

Potentially, this system can be installed to existing dampening systems using springs and or hydraulic fluids, but it might not work with magnetorheological suspension like the kind found in a Lamborghini Huracan because insulating the two different magnetic fields would be nearly impossible.

What the patent does suggest is that this new inductive system could work independently, but it remains to be seen if this would be cost-effective and if there would be any potential weight savings. Additionally, it has been stated from the patent that "a progressive or digressive dampening behavior can be achieved, depending on the compression travel or rebound travel", implying that the system offers ultra-fine dampening control.

Therefore, on paper it appears and sounds like the fact that the suspension can be more acutely damped in microseconds, incrementally increasing or reducing the dampening effect to maintain stable handling behavior and exceptional ride quality.

Another major benefit of the system is the fact that the kinetic energy of the dampers can be harvested by the coils within the damper tubes which can then be sent to heating systems as heat energy or recouped as electrical energy for later use in the suspension using a capacitor, although other storage options are also possible.

Following this very attribute, BMW has been working on suspension technology that could effectively harness energy in order for it to contribute to increasing the range of electric vehicles. The part that’s hard to decipher at this time is what types of challenges will this system eventually end up facing in the future apart from complexity and weight which may obviously be the biggest factors.

That being said, it can also be speculated that if Audi does decide to utilize the fully realized suspension setup in the near future then it would be for the all-electric RS6. Even though this upcoming model may inherently end up being a bit heavy due to the battery pack and electric motors, the slight weight penalty of the added suspension setup would probably end up making no difference. Another sportscar from Audi’s line-up which may see a significant benefit after being equipped with this system is the RS e-tron GT since it's essentially a powerful grand tourer and a sportscar combined.

Lastly, Audi could end up utilizing this suspension technology for its most luxurious vehicles such as the A8, Q8, and the Q8 e-tron since the primary goal for all three models is to maximize the comfort factor for its front and rear passengers. It's quite tricky to determine when exactly Audi’s new suspension technology will see the light of day but what can be expected is that it will greatly help improve the ride, handling, and overall dynamics of all its future models.

A penchant for all things on four wheels and tonnes of research pertaining to evolution of automotive technologies.