Hands-on Technology at first hand

Fleet managers use ZF products to practice safe, efficient driving on ADAC test track in Schlüsselfeld.

Michael Knee, Fleet Manager at Volksbank Neckartal, Eberbach im Odenwald, Germany

The fast-moving 4x4 is shrouded in rain and spray. Quite suddenly, it starts to spin – the driver wrestles with the steering wheel in a vain attempt to stabilize and straighten out the vehicle, and then, as the mid-range SUV goes into a skid, he loses control. However, there’s no need to worry. The car rotates one final time and comes to a standstill with its front wheels at an angle. The driver lifts his hands in a gesture of resignation while the vehicle is still rocking from side to side. The ADAC instructor bends over the microphone and calls out some simple advice: counter-steer faster and earlier. The driver nods, and then drives off the practice pad, making way for the next car.

The fact that almost all participants on the safety training course get it right on the second attempt – despite the cold, rainy weather – is due not least to their professional backgrounds. All of them are fleet managers, responsible for looking after their employers’ vehicle fleets. ZF has invited some fifty fleet managers for seven hours of driving entertainment – and practical experience – on a practice track owned by German automobile club ADAC, near Schlüsselfeld in northern Bavaria. Simply entitled “Experience ZF”, the course – which lasts for a full working day – includes intensive training under the supervision of experienced instructors, as well as safety tips and explanations of ZF systems by company specialists. Plus, of course, plenty of opportunity to test out high-tech ZF solutions and experience their performance at first hand.

Roland Engel, Fleet Manager, German Red Cross, St. Ingbert, Germany

It’s not all fun – this event for fleet managers is based on entirely serious considerations. Fleet managers aren’t just responsible for vehicle procurement, handover and support (including all relevant legal, tax-related and operational issues). Their job is even more complicated, because they also have to ensure their fleets meet the highest standards of safety, comfort and durability. Bottom line: it’s overall efficiency that counts. That’s why fleet managers welcome this opportunity to find out more about – and gain hands-on experience of – a selection of ZF products, as an aid to making future fleet management decisions.

Part of the practice track is a handling circuit, with plenty of bends, slopes and inclines – perfect for giving participants first-hand experience of various ZF systems. The highly efficient 8HP automatic transmission clicked softly and rapidly through gearshift after gearshift; the CDC electronic damping system created a comfortable driving experience while keeping wheels glued firmly to the ground. The Servolectric power steering system demonstrated a masterful combination of energy efficiency with high-precision control through tangles of tight bends. Not surprisingly, by the end of their day in Schlüsselfeld most of the participants were wearing very satisfied expressions and expressing their feedback in enthusiastic terms.

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