With such a large number of manufacturers and models in the automotive industry, consumers have plenty of options, which presents a challenge for OEMs as they struggle to meet the demands of increasingly picky customers. Adding to this challenge is the fact that regulatory requirements are becoming stricter and the consequences for noncompliance more severe. Meeting the needs of customers while satisfying regulatory requirements has never been more difficult for manufacturers than it is today – and to stay competitive in such a large industry, managing those tradeoffs is crucial.
Important factors in a vehicle’s design include safety, utility and efficiency, but these are not the only attributes that customers look for. Style is also a priority for many consumers, and it is one of the primary ways that manufacturers can make their product stand out in a field with ever-increasing options. Unfortunately, focusing on creating innovative styles without feedback on vehicle performance often increases the risk that emissions and fuel economy targets will not be met once the vehicle development is complete.
The only way, therefore, to meet all requirements while still standing out to consumers is through simulation. Simulation allows manufacturers to not only design the vehicle and its subsystems but to evaluate, change and optimize performance at every stage of vehicle development, all the way from concept to compliance.
In the earliest stages of design, designers have more freedom to come up with innovative style concepts that will capture the attention of consumers. Using simulation at this stage can inform them whether that design can work without compromising aerodynamics, and allow them to make changes that will accommodate both style and performance.
Designers typically iterate through as many as hundreds of design ideas in a few days, and the simulation they use must be able to keep up with that pace. SIMULIA’s PowerFLOW, with its newly developed DesignGUIDE tool, allows engineers and designers to have real-time interaction between design and performance. DesignGUIDE shows a color-coded image that informs the stylist or designer how surface movement will impact key performance measures, such as vehicle drag or lift. The designer can then evaluate areas where performance can be improved, or where there is more room to experiment with style.
Any parameter that can be examined, whether it be drag, lift, engine cooling, interior wind noise, etc., can be displayed through DesignGUIDE. The designer does not need to strictly follow the guidance provided by DesignGUIDE, but can gather useful information on how the design can evolve to improve performance.
A combination of simulation and modeling allows the designer to create something that is aesthetically pleasing and also performs well. Without simulation, a lengthy process of physical modeling and wind tunnel testing would be required, giving the designer information well after he or she had already moved on from that stage.
Once the designer has reached a balance between style and performance, the OEM needs to ensure that the design will pass final certification. With traditional processes, this phase is both lengthy and costly, but the use of simulation throughout the development process enables OEMs to feel confident that their vehicles will pass tests. In many situations, simulation can even be used to replace physical tests to demonstrate to regulators that designs meet criteria during vehicle certification.
Simulation allows designers and engineers to create vehicles that are visually attractive to consumers while still meeting performance goals and regulatory requirements – all while reducing development costs and time and ensuring that new vehicles can meet targeted launch dates.