Computers further reduce costs of developing new autos

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Computer simulations for anything from digital prototyping to running simulations on crash tests, aerodynamics or fuel economy has helped save years off the time it usually takes to develop a new vehicle, enabling costs cuts worth millions and fresher product portfolios. According to research done by analyst firm IHS Automotive, for example moving to so-called “digital prototyping” has shaved off one year off the development time of a new model (from design freeze to Job 1) compared to a couple of decades ago. “The obvious benefits are lower costs, time savings and freshness of the product portfolio,” comments IHS senior manager Matteo Fini. Jaguar Land Rover chief of research and development Wolfgang Epple says crash-testing, aerodynamics and fuel economy are the three areas that benefited the most from the advanced computer simulation features. For example, the tally of crash test prototypes for each new model has dropped from around 30 to 50 back in the day to 10 – 15 today. “Crash simulation is done over a maximum of two days nowadays, and that has taken the time out of the development cycle,” also comments Epple. With a regular crash-test prototype costing close to 700,000 euros, the reduction has yielded a huge cost reduction and also enhanced safety in the process. Carmakers are striving to also develop aerodynamics in their bid to engineer cars that deliver lower fuel consumption and can fall within newer, stricter emissions standards. But there are limitations to prototype testing in wind tunnels, for example according to US based firm Exa Corp. “There’s only an inch of clay on that model. If you want to dramatically change the rake of the windshield, you can’t,” says Exa CEO Stephen Remondi, his company delivering the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) program that was used to aerodynamically style the new Jaguar XE sedan without ever reaching the premises of a wind tunnel facility. Via Automotive News Europe