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The Role of Strut Bars in Electric Vehicle Handling and Control

January 22, 2024

As electric vehicles (EVs) continue rising in popularity, enhancing their handling and stability is key. Strut bars play an important role in EV suspension systems, improving structural rigidity and steering responsiveness.

In this in-depth guide, we’ll cover how strut bars work, their benefits for EVs, installation considerations, and future strut bar innovations.

What Are Strut Bars?

Strut bars are straightforward mechanical components designed to connect the right and left sides of a vehicle’s chassis or body structure. They are made from rigid metal rods, typically steel or aluminum.

The bars span across the engine bay to join the strut towers on each side. Strut towers house the top mount of the shock absorbers that compress to absorb bumps and vibrations. By bridging the two strut towers, strut bars unite both halves of the suspension.

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How Do Strut Bars Enhance Handling?

Though simple in appearance, strut bars provide important handling and control improvements:

Increases Chassis Rigidity

The additional bracing between the strut towers bolsters the overall structural rigidity of the chassis. This enhanced stiffness allows suspension components to operate more precisely.

Distributes Pressure Evenly

In turns, a vehicle’s weight shifts outward on the suspension away from the turn direction. This unevenly loads the inner and outer wheels. Strut bars distribute pressure more evenly side-to-side to keep tires flat on the road.

Reduces Body Roll

During cornering and evasive maneuvers, vehicles exhibit some degree of body roll as inertia acts on the chassis. Strut bars stabilize the suspension to minimize distracting body roll.

Improves Responsiveness

With a reinforced chassis and reduced body motion, the vehicle suspension can respond more quickly and accurately to steering inputs. This sharper response gives the driver better control.

Benefits of Strut Bars for Electric Vehicles

Due to their unique designs, electric vehicles stand to benefit greatly from strut bars:

Lower Center of Gravity

The heavy battery packs in EVs are mounted low in the chassis, lowering the center of gravity. A lower center of gravity reduces body roll but also allows sharper turns. Strut bars enhance control in tight turns.

Faster Acceleration

EVs generate high torque instantly, allowing rapid acceleration. Swift speed increases shift weight rearward, affecting suspension loading. Strut bars counteract these forces.

Heavier Curb Weight

Battery packs also add considerable weight to EVs compared to gas vehicles. Additional mass places more stress on suspensions. Strut bars alleviate this by spreading forces evenly across both sides.

Soft Suspension Tuning

For better ride quality over bumps, many EVs utilize a soft suspension setup. Soft suspension is more prone to body roll. Strut bars counteract this weakness.

Installing Strut Bars in Electric Vehicles

Properly installing strut bars ensures they can maximize improvements to handling:

Material Choice

Aluminum strut bars provide an ideal balance of strength, light weight, and corrosion resistance for EVs. Steel is too heavy while cheaper alloys may bend.

Proper Design Fitment

The geometry of strut bar ends must align correctly with chassis mounting points to avoid contacting other components.

Secure Mounting

Strut bars mount to the chassis via bushings or brackets. Rubber bushings isolate vibrations while still keeping the bar securely in place.

Chassis Reinforcements

For race applications, the chassis around strut bar mounts may be reinforced with additional bracing to further improve rigidity.

Tuning Other Components

Installing strut bars shifts dynamics like suspension stiffness and alignment angles. Fine tuning may be needed to optimize the interaction.

Electric Vehicle Models with Strut Bars

While not always visible externally, many modern EVs leverage strut bars:

  • Tesla Model 3 Performance – Comes with hollow rear strut bars from the factory for track driving.
  • Polestar 2 – Includes lightweight aluminum strut bars to reduce body roll.
  • Nissan Leaf – Uses a front strut bar brace for stiffness during quick turns.
  • Hyundai Kona Electric – Employs steel strut bars to improve responsiveness at higher speeds.
  • Kia EV6 – Strut bars help sharpen turn-in and steady cornering forces.
  • Volvo C40 Recharge – Optimized front strut bar boosts high-speed stability.

The Future of Strut Bar Technology

Engineers continue innovating new strut bar designs to unlock further handling improvements:

Adaptive Strut Bars

Future strut bars could actively modulate stiffness levels in real-time using electronic actuators to adapt to driving conditions.

Carbon Fiber Construction

Lighter carbon fiber strut bars reduce unsprung mass to improve suspension response.

Actively Cooled Strut Bars

Integrated cooling channels and fans could prevent strut bars from heat soaking in high-performance applications.

Structural Batteries

EV batteries may be designed as load-bearing chassis components, inherently strengthening rigidity like a strut bar.

Topology Optimization

AI-enabled generative design software can recommend organic, highly efficient strut bar shapes tailored to each vehicle.

Predictive Tuning

Onboard computers could proactively adjust strut bar stiffness parameters based on predicted road conditions and maneuvers ahead.

Conclusion

As EVs aim to match or exceed the driving dynamics of gas-powered cars, chassis innovations like strut bars grow in importance. The additional bracing and rigidity from strut bars allows EVs to corner flatter and respond more immediately to driver inputs. When properly integrated into the suspension system, strut bars maximize the handling capabilities of electric vehicles. Ongoing strut bar research will open up further ways to optimize EV dynamics. With their many benefits, strut bars are sure to remain integral but unseen helpers advancing electric vehicle performance

Optimized by Optimole