Part one of three of the series “Turnkey Vehicle Development From a Single Source”.
Within the last decade, FEV has become an engineering service provider capable of covering the entire service spectrum of vehicle development. Three articles take a closer look at vehicle modules, body shell, interior/exterior, light and sight and chassis modules. Vehicle properties, such as NVH, driving dynamics, passive and active safety, and fatigue strength are considered. Virtual and real-life testing are the development tools here. The activities are accompanied by various control tasks such as benchmarking with subsequent target setting, test and prototype planning, weight management and homologation.
FEV assumes responsibility for the complete scope of turnkey vehicle development, as well as for the development of individual modules and for the selective design and calculation scope of individual components. The fact that the development competence for powertrain, transmission and vehicle comes from a single source makes FEV an ideal development partner – also for electrified vehicles. FEV offers particular expertise in the conversion of conventionally powered vehicles into electric vehicles. The ideal results here can be achieved only through the closely integrated and parallel development of powertrain and vehicle. Some turnkey vehicle development tasks will be introduced in the following:
Body shell structure
The body shell structure is the backbone of the vehicle. Over the past few years, the focus of development has been on crash performance and weight. With the future trends of autonomous driving and electrification, the requirements in this respect will change significantly, with electrified vehicles exhibiting lateral pile impact as a critical load case in most cases. The body shell structure has to prevent penetration or severe deformation of the battery case to avoid a short circuit, and therefore a fire, in the battery. In addition to this load case, the structure has to fulfill a large number of other load cases, such as global static and dynamic stiffness, local stiffness and strength, fatigue strength, and much more. The key task in development is the resolution of conflicts between these requirements and the equally important topics of cost and quality.
New vehicle architectures are expected for autonomous driving vehicles. Only in the event of complete connectivity and autonomization of the vehicle will we expect a reduction of vehicle safety requirements, with the same potential for weight reduction. The early involvement of production forms an important aspect of body shell development. And, thanks to the intensive application of simulation technologies for production, a high degree of maturity is reached in the first test vehicles, avoiding costly, late tool changes. Even standard parts, such as bolts, nuts, clips, standard reinforcements, and holders, have to be defined at the start of the project.
>> THE KEY TASK IN DEVELOPMENT IS THE RESOLUTION OF CONFLICTS BETWEEN REQUIREMENTS AND THE EQUALLY IMPORTANT TOPICS OF COST AND QUALITY
The construction of each part has to match the production requirements from the very beginning. The calculation is the most important tool in this development phase. This is where suggestions for the optimization of parts with regard to crash performance, stiffness, NVH and manufacturability are developed. The designs have to strike the right balance between these requirements.
Exterior and interior
FEV maps all topics in the fields of exterior and interior. This begins in the earliest concept phase with installation space analyses and various design support topics. Further topics are the creation of technical surfaces in “class A” quality in the field of surfacing as well as tool and series-compatible component development – FEV is a comprehensive partner at the interface of OEM and Tier 1 customers.
Surfacing plays a critical role in ensuring convergences between design and technology during the entire process sequence (Figure 1). FEV therefore takes responsibility for the optimization of surfaces and their transitions in the visible and gray areas (constant, unobstructed geometries), provides defined part transitions and harmonious joint runs, and lays out the technical requirements with regard to production (e.g. surface finish and materiality, Figure 2). Compliance with minimum radii in accordance with ECE R26, legal regulations for pedestrian protection and impact crash requirements is a matter of course for the team of specialists. The last development phase in particular is characterized by close cooperation between tool manufacturing, construction and surfacing.
>> INCREASING CONNECTIVITY AND NEW MOBILITY CONCEPTS SUCH AS CARSHARING, ELECTRIC CARS AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES ARE INSTIGATING RADICAL CHANGES, WITH A STRONG INFLUENCE ON THE INTERIOR
As reflected in automotive megatrends, vehicle interiors are growing rapidly in importance. With the focus for interior development often placed on purely practical considerations, increasing connectivity and new mobility concepts such as carsharing, electric cars and autonomous vehicles are instigating radical changes, with a strong influence on all equipment and the interior in general – however, with a focus on seat design and development. The keywords include flexibility, comfort, functionality and connectivity.
FEV has invested heavily in the development of team strengths in the field of seat development and is set to focus on the sustainable expansion of resources in this segment in the future, too. The developers consider seats to be the future “command center” of the vehicle, which, in addition to customization options (memory functions for decisive driver profile distinctions) even provides the opportunity to integrate health and wellness functions (e.g. vital monitoring). The ratio of cost and weight in comparison with the full vehicle also confirms the importance of seats.
In the field of model/prototype construction and trim shop, FEV customers benefit from a broad spectrum of services and considerable expertise in the implementation of both simple and complex themes. The construction of car bucks and seat boxes, support with regard to seat modifications, and the conversion of subframes therefore form part of the range of services offered. In addition, all facets and materials are mapped in trim development (leather, synthetic leather, materials, synthetic fabric; Figure 3), and customers are accompanied from sewing and lining work to the integration of heating and air conditioning systems right through to the technical documentation. Ranging from the procurement of individual steering wheels, gearshift cuffs, central armrests, and vehicle headliners up to the production of complete car seats and complete interiors, FEV has a largescale operation.
In Germany alone, around 100 FEV employees are currently working on full interior development (headliner, pillars, floor/ insulation, trunk space/cargo management, center console, door trims and instrument panel).Click here to read the second part of the series.