Simulation platform for trailers and bodies
CO₂ regulations for heavy commercial vehicles planned at European level will not just affect the major tractor vehicle manufacturers, but also their system partners, the trailer and body manufacturers. In a first legislative stage, it is initially expected that from 2018 onwards tractor vehicle manufacturers will have to disclose the CO₂ emission values for those of their vehicles engaged in long-distance and distribution transport. In the process, the influence of trailers and bodies on the aerodynamics of the vehicle as a whole will initially be described in the VECTO simulation tool using defined default values. In a second step – probably in the period 2020/2021 – an extension to other categories of vehicle is to be anticipated. Trailer and body manufacturers too will then be confronted with the major challenge of calculating the wind resistance of their respective products under a process that is recognized and certified by the competent authorities. Measurements based on driving tests are expensive and unaffordable for the large majority of the small and medium-sized enterprises concerned. If, in addition, the potential for further aerodynamic optimization of trailers and bodies is to be tapped, then a different approach is required.
Against this backdrop, the VDA commissioned a feasibility study to investigate key technical, economic and legal issues in developing a CFD simulation platform (Computational Fluid Dynamics), that is specially tailored to the requirements of small and medium-sized trailer and body manufacturers. The study was conducted by companies Fluidyna and TMG Consultants and concludes that the development and validation of a central, web-based simulation platform is possible within a two to three year time frame. The necessary coordination is currently in hand with the critical stakeholders in order to be able to commence the project before 2015 is out.
Unlike decentralized software solutions, which would require companies to put in place appropriately trained personnel and operate expensive hardware, the necessary outlay for operating a centralized and web-based solution could be kept within economically acceptable bounds. Should it prove possible to create such a centrally operated platform, companies could use it to corroborate the aerodynamic contribution of their respective bodies or trailers to the aerodynamic characteristics of an entire vehicle and would not have to accept the “default values” defined in the context of the EU’s planned CO₂ legislation, which would presumably be more adverse.