Technology

LiquidSpring Drives The Evolution Of Vehicle Suspension

Michael Campos
Posted on July 17, 2012
LiquidSpring strut springs.

LiquidSpring strut springs.

Traditional vehicle suspension systems have always traded off between ride quality and vehicle handling because the technology to produce a soft ride with stable handling had proven commercially impossible.

Now, thanks to the revolutionary CLASS suspension system designed by LiquidSpring Technologies Inc., that is no longer the case. The CLASS system replaces steel or air springs, eliminates the need for shock absorbers, and does not suffer from the vagaries of air springs, such as condensation.

LiquidSpring’s Compressible Liquid Adaptive Suspension System, like the DS96F suspension for the E-450 chassis, pictured, automatically adjusts to road conditions and driving style.
LiquidSpring’s Compressible Liquid Adaptive Suspension System, like the DS96F suspension for the E-450 chassis, pictured, automatically adjusts to road conditions and driving style.

CLASS is an acronym for Compressible Liquid Adaptive Suspension System, which uses a compressible fluid as the spring and damping medium to provide both an extremely soft and extremely stiff spring in the same vehicle. An electronic control system takes sensor data from the vehicle, such as speed, steering and variance in ride height, and puts it through a series of algorithms that adjusts the amount of compressible liquid at any given moment. Basically, CLASS responds to various road conditions and driving styles by automatically and instantaneously adjusting spring stiffness and damping at each wheel independently to increase roll control and stability.

The system is available for the Ford E-450, F-450 and F-550 chassis. Richard Meyer, president of LiquidSpring Technologies, says CLASS will be coming soon to the Dodge 5500 chassis, the Navistar line, and the Chevrolet 4500.

CLASS offers two modes: Comfort and Sport. Comfort mode results in the system minimally using higher strut spring stiffness to maximize ride comfort while maintaining handling control. Sport mode results in the system moderately using higher strut spring stiffness to improve handling control while maintaining ride comfort. The spring stiffness is changed automatically without driver intervention.

Normally, the strut is in its softest spring stiffness with all the compressible fluid active, but is changed on demand to a higher spring stiffness by closing a rate valve, thereby reducing the amount of active compressible fluid.

The system is managed by a control panel.
The system is managed by a control panel.

LiquidSpring Technologies, founded in 1982 and headquartered in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., spent the past several years to research, develop and patent CLASS. The suspension system is engineered, manufactured and distributed by Lafayette, Ind.-based LiquidSpring LLC, a subsidiary of LiquidSpring Technologies. As part of the product verification and validation process, LiquidSpring performed an Altoona 5-year/150,000 mile schedule structural durability test on a Ford E-450 at the Bosch Automotive Proving Grounds.

Meyer says his goal is to get CLASS onto limo buses and minibuses throughout the industry. Not only is he working with vendors nationwide, he’s also approached large operator networks, such as Carey. “We hope to capture a major share of the market,” he says.

Because the technology is so new, most of the company’s efforts this year will be centered on educating consumers about the CLASS system and demonstrating its effectiveness. Words can only go so far in describing what it feels like to ride on a CLASS-equipped bus, and still the picture is only a monochrome pencil sketch.

The best way to really understand the system is by experiencing it, Meyer says. He’s offering a special promotion to equip dealers with a demo bus to show operators.

LiquidSpring strut springs.
LiquidSpring strut springs.

“We’ve been in contact with several dealers, some of which were at the [2012 International] LCT Show in Las Vegas, some of which were not, with quotations and programs to get the units out there in operation.”

The first CLASS kits for the F-550 were delivered to New York dealers in May, and will follow up with Florida, Louisiana and Texas.

CLASS also can be installed on older buses as a retrofit. The estimated time for installing the system onto a chassis without the body is six to eight hours, and eight to 11 hours with the body on, Meyer says.

LiquidSpring Technologies is also pursuing the ambulance market because the demands of emergency medical transportation could benefit from the ability to switch immediately between a soft ride to a stiffer, better handling ride. Meyer says he’s already working with Braun, a major ambulance company, to get the system onto their vehicles.

Operators and vendors who are interested in the CLASS suspension system should contact Carl Harr at (765) 474-7816 ext. 108 or email [email protected]

Related Topics: buses, LiquidSpring, mini-buses, suspension systems, vehicle technology

Comments ( 1 )
  • Joe kennedy

     | about 3 years ago

    Like it on the F550 chassis. Can this be adapted to 40 foot transit buses?

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