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10Feb

Electrohydraulic steering systems gaining ground

Electrohydraulic steering systems have been commonly used in passenger vehicles since the 1980s, as solely hydraulic steering systems started to fall out of favour when electrical components in cars became the norm. Electric windows and sunroofs replaced manual versions, and in high end cars even the seat adjustment mechanism moved from a manual operation to an electrically operated system. The presence of electrical circuits in passenger vehicles led designers and engineers to explore how electrohydraulic components could be used to improve vehicle efficiency and the driver experience for passenger cars and steering systems were an obvious place to start.

The same technology has been slower to penetrate the heavier commercial vehicle market but it is starting to gain ground now, thanks to the improved fuel efficiency offered by the electrohydraulic power steering offering compared to fully hydraulic systems – around 70% for hydraulic systems and far less for those that cleverly employ electrical integration. The rise in electrification of mechanical components in commercial and industrial vehicles and the same trend in the adoption of steer-by-wire technology, has also contributed to the increased adoption of electrohydraulic power steering. As more parts of the vehicle use electrical power and it becomes easier to adapt the steering systems to include electrohydraulic actuators they will be more and more widely used, improving the driver experience and fuel efficiency.

Electrohydraulic systems are becoming more popular in many areas of industry thanks to the prevalence of electrical power, and the recognition that hydraulic technology is beneficial in many applications. Although traditional hydraulics may be replaced in small pieces of equipment that are not required to exert a large force, there are many other places where hydraulic power cannot be matched, and designers and engineers are noticing this and encouraging the integration of the two power sources to maximise efficiency while saving energy. The cumulative effect of this will be an exciting time for hydraulic power industry.

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