e-mobility technology feature Claytex in the summer 2020 issue of their magazine; Virtualising Durability – The Final Test of Zero Prototype Vehicle Development.
Many OEMs, including Jaguar Land-Rover (JLR), Mazda and Renault, have stated that their goal is to achieve zero (or near zero) prototype vehicle production. To achieve this, they require simulation to replace testing that would be covered by prototypes, as such, many have started their own investments in vehicle simulation development. BMW have built the “Driving Simulation Centre” in Munich, an investment of around €100m towards achieving this. Robust simulation is critical to any OEM in achieving a quicker, economic, and more environmentally friendly vehicle development process. But the closer to the zero-prototype goal an OEM gets, the more difficult it can be to reproduce the data they would expect from traditional prototype-based testing.
Simulation already forms an essential role in the early stages of vehicle development, aerodynamics simulation improving vehicle drag, powertrain analysis to gain vehicle efficiency and suspension optimisation to make the ride comfortable and achieve the handling targets. A great number of tools are available for development and refinement, but many predominantly work in isolation from each other. Most specialise in their own aspect of vehicle analysis and produce results for one element of the vehicle. Data from each tool feeds another but as the vehicle design mutates during development the inputs to each test must change with it. For example, an alteration to the bodywork at the front of the vehicle could affect the cooling of the powertrain, the drag and average torque load on the motors and vertical load on the suspension and tyres. This can cause a cascade of reviews and modifications to accommodate the change but that in turn can have its own effect on every other system.
While obvious changes can be earmarked as potentially influential and investigated ahead of this problem, some issues are only found when full vehicle durability testing is carried out. Problems in component wear is a problem that many OEMs have difficulty in predicting but critical to achieving vehicle longevity. In almost all cases, prototype vehicles, their drivers and the subsequent component evaluation have the final say in whether the vehicle is working correctly and ready for sale.
What is durability testing?
Durability testing is an investigation into the long-term degradation of a vehicle after experiencing the expected obstacles it should expect to see through its lifetime. Most durability testing is carried out at vehicle proving grounds and encompasses both what most would consider normal driving conditions and the less common events that a normal driver would see irregularly. This can include sustained high speed, laps around racetracks and kerb strikes. Each OEM will have durability routines which are tailored to include what they anticipate the vehicle will encounter given the vehicle type and the target market. Read the full article here
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