October 17, 2001 DaimlerChrysler is exhibiting a special concept study at the 35th Tokyo Motor Show: the F 400 Carving is a research vehicle packed with dynamic systems designed to give the cars of tomorrow substantially enhanced active safety, dynamic handling control and driving pleasure.
The main attraction in the F 400 Carving is a new system that varies the camber angle on the outer wheels between 0 and 20 degrees, depending on the road situation. Used in conjunction with newly-developed tyres, it provides 30 percent more lateral stability than a conventional system with a fixed camber setting and standard tyres. This considerably enhances active safety, since better lateral stability equals improved road adhesion and greater cornering stability.
Active camber control boosts the research vehicle's maximum lateral acceleration to 1.28 g, meaning that the concept study outperforms current sports cars by some 28 percent.
The active camber control in the F 400 Carving paves the way for an equally new asymmetrical-tread tyre concept. When the two-seater car is cornering, the outer wheels tilt inwards, leaving only the inner area of these tyres in contact with the road. This area of the tread is slightly rounded off. Meanwhile both the tread pattern and the rubber blend have been specially selected to ensure highly dynamic and extremely safe cornering. When driving straight ahead, however, it is the outer areas of the tyres that are in contact with the road. These areas have a tried-and-tested car tread pattern, offering excellent high-speed and low-noise performance.
The research vehicle's "Carving" epithet symbolises the new technology, evoking images of the high-speed winter sport in which adepts perform sharp turns on a specially-shaped high-grip ski.
The F 400 Carving is something of a mobile research laboratory for the Stuttgart-based automotive engineers. They will be using it to investigate the undoubted further potential of this new chassis technology: besides offering excellent directional stability during cornering, the new technology ensures a much higher level of active safety in the event of an emergency. For example, if there is a risk of skidding, the wheel camber is increased by an appropriate degree. The resultant gain in lateral stability significantly enhances the effect of the Electronic Stability Program. If the research car needs to be braked in an emergency, all four of its wheels can be tilted, thus shortening the stopping distance from 100 km/h by five metres.
In addition to active camber control, the research car is fitted with other forward-looking steering and chassis systems, including a steer-by-wire system. Sensors pick up the drivers steering inputs and send this information to two microcomputers which control an electrically driven steering gear. The DaimlerChrysler engineers also charted new territory when it came to the suspension tuning, and introduced a first: an active hydropneumatic system that optimises the suspension and shock absorption in line with the changing situation on the road, all at lightning speed.
The F 400 Carving is also the showcase for a totally new form of lighting technology developed by the Stuttgart-based researchers: fibre-optic lines are used to transmit light from xenon lamps beneath the bonnet to the main headlamps. This technology stands out by virtue of its high performance and extremely space-saving design. Additional headlamps positioned on the sides also come on when the car is cornering.
The shape of the distinctive wing profiles provides the necessary room for the wheels to move when the active camber control is at work during cornering and, at the same time, emphasises the youthful and highly-adventurous nature of this concept study. In order to reflect the research car's high-quality driving dynamics, the designers opted for a speedster concept incorporating an extended bonnet, a windscreen with an extremely sharp rake, a short tail end and an interior tailor-made for two.