Volvo Car Corporation
A vehicle might be subjected to misuse, peak load or strength events such as driving over a curb or skidding against a curb a few times during its life. These durability load cases play a major role in the product development process since they potentially drive the design for several components. At Volvo, the “driving over a curb” and “skid against a curb” strength events are classified into two categories, Level 1 and 2. Level 1 represents extreme customer usage and the requirement is that all functions remain intact with no visible or noticeable deformation of any component of the vehicle. Level 2 covers customer misuse and a certain amount of damage is accepted with a safe failure mode. Structural deformations are acceptable but there should be no separation or breakage. For level 2 it is desirable that a predetermined inexpensively replaceable component deforms and protects neighboring components, a design principle known as chain of failure.
The ability to accurately simulate Level 2 load cases will make it possible to substantially improve the product development process. “From the early stages of the development process, we will be able to evaluate the performance of alternative designs in terms of their performance under Level 2 loads,” Wirje said. “The ability to quickly and easily look at alternatives at a time when we are not locked into any particular approach should make it possible to meet performance requirements with a lighter suspension that can improve the fuel economy of the vehicle. At the same, we should be able to reduce the cost and time involved in suspension development by performing product development more accurately from the beginning so fewer prototype verification cycles are required. Of course, full physical verification will be performed at the end of the project.”