Shanghai Komman Vehicle Component Systems Stock Co., Ltd.
Shanghai Komman Vehicle Component Systems Stock Co., Ltd.

The Development History and Structural Differences of the Semi-Trailer Air Suspension in European and American Styles over Nearly a Century

Jul 13 , 2023

The development history of semi-trailer air suspension

Air suspension is an essential component of modern vehicles. Its appearance has made a qualitative leap in comfort and driving quality of cars.

The air spring was originally used as a damping element in the suspension of trams, and the first car product equipped with air suspension appeared in 1914. However, it was not until 1930 that Harvey Firestone developed the AIRRIDE air spring with the technical support of Henry Ford I and Thomas Alva Edsion.

In 1944, General Motors Corporation and Firestone Company collaborated to conduct experiments on vehicles, and air suspension was not actually applied to public buses and passenger cars.

In the 1950s, the American company Neway manufactured the world's first commercial air suspension system. In the 1960s, air suspension quickly became popular in the commercial vehicle fields in Europe, the United States, Japan, and other countries. Currently, 95% of passenger cars, 80% of heavy-duty vehicles, and 40% of trailers in North America and Europe are equipped with air suspension systems.

In the 1990s, imported foreign air suspension vehicles began to enter China with the introduction of whole vehicles, and quickly became popular in the field of passenger cars, and gradually expanded to the truck and trailer fields.

Equipped with airbags, the空suspension has a larger stroke than the leaf spring, and the axle load is more uniform, effectively protecting the axle and the road surface. Due to the subdivision of application conditions, semi-trailer air suspension has evolved into European and American styles with their own characteristics.

The difference between European and American semi-trailer air suspension

The difference between European and American air suspensions is mainly in the different suspension arm (load-bearing beam, suspension arm) of the airbag.

European suspension arms generally use forged leaf springs, which are flexible components; while American suspension arms are stamped or cast steel plates, which are rigid components.

The suspension arm (load-bearing beam, suspension arm) of the European airbag suspension is a single or multiple leaf springs, and the suspension arm is forged. Because the suspension arm is a leaf spring, it can play a certain buffering effect during driving, and can achieve some shock absorption relative to the American suspension.

The American suspension arm is made of stamped and welded steel plates. In theory, the weight of the American suspension arm will be lighter. The use of stamped and welded suspension arms is also closely related to the fact that the single-axle axle load of American vehicles does not exceed the load. Compared with European suspension, the suspension arm of the American suspension is rigidly connected.

Both forms of semi-trailer air suspension are used by customers domestically in China, and it can be said that each has its own advantages and disadvantages. As for which one to choose, it depends on the needs of the card owner.

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