Active Suspension in Luxury Vehicles

Active Suspension: Playing Offense And Defense

Many luxury vehicles will be equipped with an active suspension. When compared with a conventional suspension, an active suspension is quite different. The majority of vehicle suspensions are reactive. These suspensions only react when a vehicle’s wheels roll over a dip or bump in pavement.

It’s the change of the wheel’s position that causes the vehicle’s suspension to extend or compress. Acceleration, braking and cornering also cause a vehicle’s suspension to react. A vehicle’s suspension allows the body to dive, squat or roll.

Since the 17th century, the basic concept of vehicle suspensions hasn’t changed much. However, the technology has evolved significantly, which has made vehicle suspensions much more efficient. Modern suspensions give vehicles a great balance of handling and ride comfort.

Unfortunately, the shocks and springs on a conventional suspension can only react to forces placed on them. Put simply, conventional suspensions can only play defense.

The Active Suspension

Unlike a conventional suspension, an active suspension is able to play offense. An active suspension uses a computer, which controls strong actuators. In an active suspension system, a computer controls four actuators. There is an actuator installed at every wheel.

The computer delivers precise movement directions to each actuator. An active suspension isn’t totally dependent on interactions with road surface. Active suspension is an onboard system that is used in many luxury vehicles. Put simply, an active suspension can proactively counter road conditions.

An active suspension employs many different sensors, which keep track of a vehicle’s lateral and longitudinal accelerations, speed and other metrics. The computer is constantly telling a vehicle’s wheels what ways they need to move.

An active suspension eliminates the compromise between handling and ride, which conventional suspensions suffer from. The innovative work that gave birth to the active suspension was performed by Lotus. The first active suspensions had many problems.

Today’s Active Suspension

Today, there are many productions vehicles that have semi-active and active suspension. Aside from vehicles like the 2008 Audi TT and 2009 Acura MDX, it's mostly luxury cars that are equipped with an active suspension system.

In fact, active suspension is used almost exclusively in luxury vehicles. Bose and other companies are working on developing a new breed of active suspension, which should be suitable for most production vehicles.

The main reason why cheaper production vehicles cannot be equipped with active suspension is because it’s heavy and quite expensive. It’s just not economical to equip standard production vehicles with active suspension.