They came, they drove, they were amazed
The crankshafts in the Porsche 911 Carrera S, the steering column in Tesla’s Model X and the semi-active dampers in the BMW i8 have one thing in common: They are all made by thyssenkrupp. These are facts that even trade journalists don’t always know. So thyssenkrupp invited them to gain some high-speed insights.
Anyone hearing the name thyssenkrupp usually thinks of steel. But the company’s expertise goes far beyond its most well-known area of business – after all, there are 40,000 automotive experts alone at over 70 international locations shaping how we drive today and tomorrow. To understand the potential of steering systems, intelligent chassis or solutions for autonomous driving, a quick look under the hood is not enough – you need to experience it for yourself.
From the BMW i8 to the Tesla Model X
Just in time for its upcoming appearance at the IAA, thyssenkrupp invited around 20 press representatives and digital influencers to a big driving event at the Aldenhoven Testing Center near Aachen, Germany. In bright sunshine, several genuine highlights were presented at the roughly two-kilometer-long oval track: Normally used as a test location for navigation systems and a film set for high-speed scenes, it offered the opportunity to test drive such vehicles as the Roding Roadster steer-by-wire prototype, a BMW x3 that demonstrated the tuning potential of an EPS steering system, and a self-driving Mercedes C Class. Technology fans’ eyes naturally also lit up at the Model X from Tesla – the electric car with damping technology from thyssenkrupp Bilstein. And also on show was the German postal service’s StreetScooter that includes lightweight materials, suspension technology and steering components from thyssenkrupp.
On your marks, get set, go!
The event got underway at 11.30 a.m.: Split into two groups, the journalists and auto bloggers enjoyed the fast-paced “Experience Sessions” either from the passenger seat or even behind the wheel – for example in the Mercedes C Class: The test drivers put two versions through their paces, one with conventional dampers and one with electrically optimized dampers from thyssenkrupp, concluding that the two systems are worlds apart. Even more impressive was the autonomous excursion in a Ford Fiesta: As co-pilots the journalists experienced first-hand how it feels to take their hands off the steering wheel and let the vehicle complete an obstacle course all on its own – thanks to software and hardware solutions. Afterwards the thyssenkrupp experts were available to share their knowledge and answer everyone’s questions. Finally late in the afternoon the “Drift Brothers” served up a particular treat, thrilling all volunteers with an exciting drift experience and showing what high-performance chassis components have to withstand in motor sport.
Learning something new
Steer-by-wire, autonomous driving, proactive dampers – the guests were clearly impressed. “Normally I think of steel when I think of thyssenkrupp – and that plays a role here too but components like passive and active dampers in particular are extremely interesting. That kind of thing brings out the boy in me,” said Mark Kreuzer of Mobilegeeks.de. “It really was a great opportunity to learn by doing.” The influencer learned not least that lightweighting is not limited just to the car body – and the Mobilegeeks expert was clearly impressed by the ultralight wheels made of braided carbon fibers from thyssenkrupp’s development department. Ultimately all the guests agreed how amazing it was that almost every car contains components and materials from thyssenkrupp.