Milestone Moments: AAM Launches SmartBar®

Published on May 14, 2024


AAM was founded 30 years ago on commitments to Quality, Technology Leadership and Operational Excellence. Our emphasis on Technology Leadership means we are always seeking to engineer solutions that set new benchmarks for safety, performance and sustainability. This is why we created AAM’s SmartBar® technology in 1999, and why it continues to be an important part of our product portfolio.

SmartBar is a disconnecting stabilizer bar—commonly referred to as an anti-roll bar—a product designed to improve a vehicle's stability at high speeds. When driving aggressively into a corner, SmartBar settles the car, providing better stability by pulling it down and helping to distribute the cornering load. It revolutionized the concept of vehicle stability and off-road performance, setting a new standard for automotive enthusiasts and manufacturers alike. SmartBar emerged as the first-to-market solution in its category, marking a watershed moment in the evolution of off-road technology.

The original concept for SmartBar was conceived in 1999 and patented in September 2000. It stemmed from #TeamAAM’s need to improve off-road ride and traction using a production front axle disconnect assembly (for the GM Trailblazer) applied to a stabilizer bar. The team tested the SmartBar prototype extensively, including trials at Michigan’s Grattan Speedway in the early 2000s.

At that time, the three AAM engineering groups working on the technology were proponents of electronically controlled devices and building an organization that could write software and develop such devices to integrate into modern vehicles. This was not very common in that part of the traditional mechanical axle industry at that time, as electronics were only used on engines and certain transmissions with software controls.

SmartBar's design allowed the vehicles it was installed in to seamlessly adapt to varying driving conditions, ensuring optimal performance regardless of terrain. The normal function of a typical stabilizer bar is to restrict side-to-side suspension movement to improve handling and reduce body roll of the vehicle in turns. However, this had only negative effects on the vehicle suspension when driving at low speeds or off-road. Improving on this standard design, SmartBar could be programmed to relieve this on-road/off-road compromise.

SmartBar’s significance extends beyond its technical capabilities. It represents a paradigm shift in automotive engineering, challenging traditional notions of stability and control. By enabling vehicles to maintain traction on rough terrain and navigate challenging off-road obstacles with ease, SmartBar has redefined the boundaries of what is possible behind the wheel.

Looking ahead, AAM’s SmartBar technology is still setting new benchmarks 25 years later as it finds itself amidst a resurgence of interest within the automotive industry. Many industry leaders are now embracing SmartBar technology as they venture into the electric vehicle market with a focus on off-road capability, and #TeamAAM is ready to partner with these leaders to deliver POWER with this technology.

As we reflect on AAM's 30-year journey, SmartBar stands as a testament to our commitment to innovation and mission of Bringing the Future Faster.

AAM Milestone Moments is a monthly series celebrating and reflecting on key achievements in AAM’s 30-year history. Ranging from watershed innovations and technological advances to foundational programs and community initiatives that are part of AAM’s DNA, these AAM Milestone Moments will each tell an important piece of the AAM story.