GM puts eBoost brake system on a trailer and shrinks stopping distances

Stops 40 feet shorter from 60 mph, even adds stability control

It's a familiar ritual for pickup truck makers to swap ownership of maximum tow ratings every few years. Now that pickups can tow City Hall, a new engineering concept developed at GM wants to help drivers manage what's hanging out behind the bed. Called the eBoost Trailer Brake Concept, the automaker has transferred its eBoost braking technology, installed on the 2020 Chevrolet SIlverado and Corvette, and GMC Sierra, to the trailer.

eBoost combines the master cylinder, vacuum booster, vacuum pump, and electronic brake control module into one unit, enabling fine computer control of brake application and feedback. On top of that, GM engineers upgraded the trailer with larger rotors, calipers and tires.

The result: In a braking test from 60 miles per hour to standstill, using a Sierra pulling a 9,000-pound trailer, the truck and trailer combo stopped about 40 feet shorter. GM said the improvement beat a trailer with traditional electronic brakes by up to 20 percent, and marked the same braking distance of a Sierra at GVWR but without a trailer. 

GM systems engineer Todd Brinkman told Automotive News, "We took the design parameters that we would use for designing a vehicle: determining how much brake force we would need to achieve the stopping distance and what components would be required to deliver those goals. We applied those same constraints to a trailer to prove that we could stop the two together as fast as a truck alone."

The concept system used the same standardized seven-pin trailer harness, with no additional connections. Communication through the ubiquitous unit even allowed stability control on the trailer brakes, for improved sway mitigation.

Clearly, however, trailers don't come with the required hardware to put GM's concept into practice yet. The automaker wants to work with trailer manufacturers to get the technology to market, where it would be compatible with any pickup. The trailer maker would need to fit each unit with the beefier hardware to take advantage of eBoost, the trailer company perhaps paying GM a licensing fee to incorporate eBoost, or customers buying the system for an approved trailer at a GM dealer. If GM can get the pricing to work, the anti-sway benefits alone could save a lot of heartache and money during the summer season.

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