It can be said that for any car, multiple things need to go well. The engine must run, the wiring must connect, the driver interface must be well put together, and the motor must be fully functional. That’s not even getting into all the aspects that comprise the vehicle’s aerodynamic design. However, no aspect of vehicle building or planning can come to fruition without what is likely one of the most fundamental components of any car: the wheels.
It is the wheels that literally move the car forward, and bring the driver to his or her destination. And ZF was there for us to ensure that Novum, our smallest solar car, would move forward. “Without ZF’s machining capabilities, we wouldn’t have been able to manufacture our front and rear wheels,” says 2017 Race Mechanical Engineer Jake Anderson.
Thanks to the reliable wheels we had machined by ZF, we were able to move full speed ahead—both literally and figuratively—to our first-ever 2nd place World Solar Challenge finish. In Australia, we had a lot riding on our performance. We were experimenting with a new aerodynamic design, and consequently had much to think about in terms how we would adjust our race strategy to meet this new design. Add this onto the fact that we were dealing with exposure to some of the harshest natural elements the world has to offer, and this can easily seem like an overwhelming situation. Having durable, reliable, and versatile equipment is integral to the survival of any vehicle, but ZF’s wheels went above and beyond. Not only were they of the utmost reliability, but they helped us thrive under the extreme temperatures and extreme road conditions of the Outback.
In the past, many of our wheels had formed cracks in the rims, leading to the team spending precious race time on taking care of these structural issues. ZF’s machining capabilities were of great help to our mechanical team. Their knowledge and analysis of the crack formations on our previous wheels allowed us to fine tune the wheels we ended up using.
ZF also provided us with shock absorbers that Jake says “never once failed us and required minimal maintenance, allowing us to focus on other car systems.”
Our historic second-place finish did not come without great effort—but it wasn’t just our own efforts. ZF’s hands-on, professional, and world-class assistance helped us move forward in this race—and that is something our members still speak of nearly half a year after the race. Thank you, ZF! We couldn’t have done it without you!