Could this new rear wheel steering (AKC) system from ZF be the future of pickup trucks? We put it through a battery of tests to find out with this Ford F-150 prototype and trailer provided by ZF.
Trucks with rear wheel steering is not a new idea. Delphi and GM produced Quadrasteer rear wheel steering Chevy and GMC trucks and SUVs between 2002 and 2005. The Quadrasteer system was very expensive and it made the trucks nearly four inches wider, requiring different fenders and additional marker lights. ZF re-imagines rear-wheel-steering nearly two decades after Quadrasteer.
ZF says that their latest AKC four-wheel steering system can help the truck control trailer sway, reduce uncomfortable side-to-side motion during turns, significantly reduce the turning radius, and potentially allow trucks have higher towing ratings.
ZF is not new to rear wheel steering systems. Since 2013, nearly 500,000 luxury sedans, SUVs, and sports cars have used various ZF rear-wheel steering systems. Rear wheel steering allowed sports cars (like the Porsche 911) get faster lap times around the Nurburgring. For large pickup trucks, there are many other potential benefits that we are here to test.
We spent a day at the ZF testing facility in Michigan to see the difference for ourselves.
The prototype truck you see here is equipped with the ZF front and rear AKC steering system and their latest integrated truck brake controller.
We see a dramatic improvement is trailer sway control during an emergency lane change between 40-45 MPH. The system also helped with braking stability on a slippery surface. Naturally, the turning circle is drastically reduced with the rear wheels steering up to 11 degrees at lower speeds.
If this system can be incorporated into future pickup trucks at scale with a relatively low additional price, then this can be a game-changer for large pickup trucks and SUVs. It is very convenient and refreshing to make a tight turn in a very large truck.
Take a look at the video to see all the test we ran.