As part of the "International busplaner Sustainability Prize 2015," an independent jury of experts assessed bus innovations that combine economic success with social responsibility and environmental friendliness. In the "Components" category, ZF's AVE 130 electric portal axle ultimately took the top prize. The ZF innovation paves the way for lane-independent low-floor city buses, which are powered with various hybrid configurations or even entirely electrically—and hence locally zero-emissions. This is primarily due to two 120-kW electric motors integrated directly in the axle. The latest AVE 130 also boasts new gearing geometry and quieter running.
In various field trials over the past few years, more than 300 ZF electric portal axles have already logged over 10 million km (6 million mi). Some of those trials included articulated buses manufactured by EvoBus in which the AVE 130 is used in serial hybrid operation—i.e., in conjunction with a downsized diesel generator. ZF says that due to the optimum design of the overall system, it can provide fuel savings of up to 30% compared with conventional diesel drives.
At present, a large number of customer projects are involved in trials or are about to be implemented worldwide—for instance in China with the manufacturer Foton and in Turkey with Bozankaya where the AVE 130 is being used in battery-electric buses and "can leverage all the benefits of electromobility."
Other advantages of the axle arise in relation to vehicle design because the AVE 130 is installation-compatible with ZF's AV 132 and AVN 132 portal axles and its electric motors are directly located in the hub units of the axle. As the conventional drive and propshaft in the rear are no longer needed, the installation space for seats and standing room can be expanded, the passenger area can have a completely level aisle, and the low-floor technology provides for a stepless entry and exit.