Quick Hits on ZF’s Electric Blue Brake Pads

ZF announced its line of Electric Blue brake pads in July and officially unveiled the product line at Automechanika in Frankfurt in September. The pads are meant for electric vehicles, with technology that particularly targets brake noise. Since the beginning of 2019, the line covers 97 percent of the European electric vehicle car parc.

The BRAKE Report spoke with Emre Burma, Senior Manager, Product Portfolio Management, Braking for ZF Aftermarket.

Without giving away anything proprietary, how does the pad formulation compare to formulations used for traditional vehicles?

In every region, there are differences in consumer needs and demands. For example, Europe is a high-speed region, performance is more important than anything else.

In some Asian countries, we know that dust is the primary criterion of the customer purchasing decision. So as we identify the demands for targeted vehicle applications or regions, our research and development center in Spain comes up with a formulation resulting in a product meeting those needs.  

For electric vehicles, our first focus was, do we have any mix in our pipeline that has a better noise profile? Those kinds of mixes or features of a mix can of course also be used in other vehicles where applicable.

I have to say it’s not only the friction material but also it is the special multilayer shim that we use in combination with special coated accessories that create the better overall NVH profile.

It’s a newer product, but what can you tell me about the reception so far?

It’s too early to say about sales numbers, but I can say it’s very well received by the customers. In some countries where governments are incentivizing electric vehicle registration, like the Nordic countries in Europe, we already had demand before we launched this product. And this demand will only increase in the future.

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How many miles would you expect these pads to be good for?

This is what we are learning along with the car industry. We need more time to come up with reliable mileage windows.

For the smaller vehicle applications, in the city, probably the wear on the brake pads will be very low due to the braking effect of the battery regeneration.

There’s new electric brake blending technology in which drivers can adjust the level of braking coming from battery regeneration because they don’t want a high level of braking effect when they’re driving on the highway at high speeds when they take their foot off the throttle. We don’t yet fully know what sort of impact this technology will have on brake pad wear.

What are some next steps?

We are going to complete the range with hybrid vehicles this year. And we’re also working on further brake pad material formulations. We’re testing it now. It will be more environmentally friendly in terms of the metal content in the brake pads.

Also, we’re preparing a range for Asia, which we want to complete this year. Last year almost 50 percent of all electric vehicles registered in the world were in China. If you consider the incentives in the big cities, it’s very hard to get a number plate for internal combustion vehicles, but it’s very easy to get one for hybrid and electric vehicles. That’s a very strong incentive for Chinese consumers. Asia, and China in particular, is our next focus. 

Also, we are talking with our colleagues in North America to figure out how to position the product.

Ben Nussbaum
Ben Nussbaum

Ben Nussbaum, Chief Content Officer of The Brake Report, has more than 20 years experience in publishing. He was the founding editor for USA Today's line of special interest magazines and the founding editor for i5 Publishing's newsstand one-off magazine program. He lives outside Washington, D.C. Email him at [email protected].