Category Archives: Chassis

The Car Industry Needs a Diet

At the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford unveiled the production version of the previous years Atlas F150 prototype. This time around the F150 stole the show, not only because it’s America’s favorite mode of transport but notably this American stalwart now sported an all aluminum cab and load body.

A number of car companies are beginning to produce vehicles with lightweight alternatives to steel. Aside from the new F-150, BMW boldly moved into carbon fiber composite with its i3 and i8 and no doubt they’ve learned a lot from this experience. Jaguar’s new XE, designed to compete against the German small sedans, supposedly is going to feature an aluminum unibody.

Nevertheless, according to Philippe Houchois, UBS Head of European Automotive Research, in order for manufacturers to meet CO2 limits in Europe, vehicles will need to lose 300 – 400 kgs/car and he believes that the industry is nowhere near that reduction.

Personally, I am an optimist and a strong believer in the potential of an industry to reinvent itself when placed under pressure. I recently had the opportunity to interview Ed Bernardon who is the VP of Strategic Automotive Initiatives at Siemens PLM Software. He is a wealth of knowledge on lightweight materials such as composites.

Our interview can be viewed in the lightweight materials section of Automotive IQ

Russian Consumers Have Most Colorful Taste in Automotive Paint in 2012

Recently, one of my colleagues here at Automotive IQ laughed about the rather extravagant name used by the official dealer literature to describe the color of my car – Nautic Blue Pearl.  In fact, dark blue probably would have sufficed. This exchange caused me to do a bit of research on naming conventions used by car companies for their color pallets.

It turns out that there is a very comprehensive book published, entitled: The Anthropology of Color. One of the contributors writes that based on a survey of Swedish newspaper advertisements and car manufacturer brochures, there were no less than 150 complex color names listed. That is a far cry from Henry Ford’s infamous quote that, “Any customer can have a car painted any color he wants so long as it’ s black.”

Automotive painting has undoubtedly advanced in strides since the time of the Model T with the utilization of anti-reflective coatings, processes that improve paint adhesion, and even self-healing paints that use polymers activated by sunlight to repair scratches. But why is dark blue called Nautic Blue Pearl?

Venetian Red Volvo V70
(Compliments of

One explanation offered by The Anthropology of Color is color symbolism – the concept that people associate certain colors with status and mood.  Therefore, colors with noble names such as Classic Green, Diplomat Blue, and Imperial Red imply status. Logically, this would imply that luxury car makers would have more detailed and elegant names for their paints. Historically, there is evidence that this was indeed the case though the concept is now shared by cars traditionally in non-luxury segments. There is no evidence that the status-filled paint color names have improved the actual brand status of less expensive cars.

Regardless of the semantics a brochure uses to name a car’s paint color, there are very real trends in car buyer preferences. Dupont tracks consumer color preferences with their yearly paint survey. Traditionally, during an economic recession, car buyers tend toward conservative colors such as black, white and silver. When times are more prosperous, yellows, oranges and reds make a comeback.

The following graphics are from the 2012 Survey:

Dupont_Color Survey 2012 Europe

Dupont Color Survey 2012: Europe

Dupont_Color Survey 2012 NA
Dupont Survey 2012:  N. America

Predictably, the conservative colors were at the top of the charts for 2012 in both Europe and North America.  Interestingly, less conservative car colors had a much better showing in Russia than other parts of the world.

Dupont_Color Survey 2012 Russia

Dupont Color Survey 2012: Russia

Interested in Automotive Paint Technology? Check out our Conference in Stuttgart, Germany between February 19 – 20, 2013. Among the many interesting topics, Mercedes will be presenting on Color Development at Mercedes Benz – in the past, in the present and in the future. Click here to learn more.

Join our Free Online Resource: Automotive IQ


Will Hornick is the Managing Editor of Automotive IQ

SAVE THE DATE: Advanced Suspension Systems 2012

The balancing act between automotive dynamic drivability and comfort constitutes an everlasting challenge for the industry. In addition the separate optimising of each vehicle system reaches its limits. The growing system complexity and system integration demands an approach which takes the over-all functionality in consideration.

Advanced Suspension Systems 2012
21 – 23 March, 2012, Maritim Rhein-Main Hotel
Darmstadt / Germany

This IQPC conference concentrates on a holistic approach: Finding innovative solutions considering the area of conflict between dynamics and comfort – and do so on a European level.

Please visit the website for more information.

Exclusive Abstract of the Automotive Composites Report by Textile Media Services Ltd

IQPC has exclusively received a sample of the “Automotive Composites: From steel to carbon and from glass to grass” report by Textile Media Services Ltd which was released this month. It was written by Adrian Wilson, and reviews the history and current use of composites in the automotive sector. It also assesses how far these materials are from being used in mass vehicle production. This in-depth report, with around 250 pages and more than 50 tables, provides a sustainable roadmap for the automotive composites industry for the next decade and beyond. It includes detailed analyses of the production and markets for carbon fibres, glass fibres and natural fibres, and profiles of leading suppliers of these input materials.

The sample is availabe as a free download. Take a look at it here. There you will also find more information in case you would like to order the report.

Advanced Technology of Automotive Front-End

Before the advent of European sports cars being imported to the United States, highways in that country were traversed by large heavy hulks of automobiles that somewhat jokingly held the reputation of being like Sherman tanks. Everything was heavy about them, from power train to the knobs on the radio. Up to the very recent past cars were manufactured from the ground-up in one assembly line; nothing really had changed from the time of Henry Ford in the very early 1900s. In other areas of manufacturing, especially electronics, miniaturization and modulations were becoming watchwords, as more attention was being paid to the need to have space and conserve natural resources.

Europe and Japan already realized that there needed to be a change in how automobiles were being manufactured, as peoples in these regions already were experiencing high fuel costs, and they were living in much more crowded areas. It was only logical to bring in manufacturing practices to the automobile industry, and the first wave of that came with European “sports cars” and economy cars. The U.S. lagged by at least ten years, introducing similar but inferior models, such as the Chevette and Pinto in the early 1970s. The Mustang and the Camero, albeit smaller than their larger predecessors, still weren’t as small as the Toyota Corolla of 1971, Honda Civic, fiat Spider, or the VW Beetle. They certainly don’t rank in the category of “compact” or “economy” cars, as a visit to any major parking lot, rental car agency, or street in Europe or Japan will immediately reveal.

Europe and Japan also led the way to modularization, as well as miniaturization, front-end modules (FEM) being a major step forward. Two major factors driving FEM development were the need for weight reduction, brought on by increasing fuel costs, and the observation that vehicle assembly procedures were bulky and inefficient. Smaller cars demand lighter components, simply because the engines are not as powerful.

Material density and size are the main factors contributing to weight and strength. The main goal in design to make a material less dense and miniaturized, while retaining functionality and durability. However, overall cost of manufacturer still is the baseline consideration by most manufacturers. Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations [1] also will be a factor. These U.S. regulations were enacted in 1975 in response to the 1973 Arab oil embargo and mandated auto manufacturers to construct vehicles with lower fuel usage.

Three basic ways of constructing a front-end module (FEM) are using current materials, (mainly metal), all non-metal (mainly composites), or a combination of both. The central goal is to have a lower weight but stronger assembly that is durable but environmentally friendly. FEMS initially has a steel carrier but developments in composite design have helped transition construction from a hybrid design to more composite-based assemblies.

Want to learn more about technology of automotive front-end? Click here for free content, such as whitepapers, articles & interviews.


Off-Highway Diesel Engines and New Emissions Standards

Off-highway engine manufacturers are getting ready for a new era in diesel design. The increasingly stringent emissions standards for off-highway diesel engines challenge engine manufacturers to an unprecedented degree. Off-highway engines need an extremely flexible engine architecture to be suitable for a large width of different applications in terms of design, duty cycles and operational conditions.

Emission reduction potential in off-highway powertrains

Get updated on the latest engine technologies for off-highway applications

  • Legislation: Upcoming EU and international regulation, to assess its impact on the off-highway market segment
  • Engine performance: New engine developments for off-highwayengines can achieve optimal performance and fuel economy for all applications
  • Alternative powertrain solutions: Comparision of innovative engine applications for new powertrain technologies to prepare yourselves for a market beyond pure diesel technology
  • Retrofitting: How to get your old fleets up to the new emissions norms through the use of intelligent retrofitting technologies
  • Exhaust aftertreatment: Insight into how to comply with future emission reduction standards using the latest exhaust aftertreatment technologies

Key engine systems of off-highway diesel engines in focus

Whereas engineers agree that the next step in emission regulation standards will not be met without exhaust aftertreatment technologies, IQPC’s 2011 conference will focus on key engine systems as the most critical components in any low emission diesel powertrain.

  • Gain insight into the latest technologies for off-highway diesel engines to meet the Tier 4/ Stage 4 legislative standards
  • Find out about new engine developments for off-highway engines to achieve optimal performance, fuel economy and flexibility for applications
  • Compare innovative engine applications for new powertrain technologies for different vehicles and markets such as marine and construction, the rail segment as well as power generation to benefit from cross industry technology advances
  • Learn about intelligent retrofitting technologies to get your old fleets up to the new emissions norms
  • Assess different exhaust aftertreatment system development to reduce emissions


Next Generation Off-Highway Engines 
Don’t miss the “Next Generation Off-Highway Engines” conference, taking place
27-29 June 2011 at the Steigenberger Hotel Metropolitan Frankfurt, Germany.

Challenges Faced by Chassis Engineers

The electrification of an increasing number of formerly mechanically and hydraulically powered chassis systems is currently one of the major challenges for chassis engineers. The strong rise in the number of electrical chassis components not only adds a new dimension to driving comfort but also enables the integration of a range of indispensable safety features.  Also, active chassis systems (braking/suspension) can help recuperate energy. For their integration, extra effort is necessary to avoid negative impact on driving feel.

Advanced electric braking and steering systems

New technologies such as regenerative braking can improve the fuel economy of a vehicle significantly, and are therefore a major key to a mass implementation of electro mobility.

The electrification of braking, suspension and steering systems, as well as global chassis integration challenges will be the focus of IQPC’s  2nd International Conference Chassis Electrification.

Key issues to be discussed

  • Market trends: Find out which are the major factors driving market demand to assess the most promising technologies
  • Energy management: Discuss how to best recuperate energy through advanced braking and suspension systems to prepare the chassisfor electro mobility
  • Power electronics: Hear about the latest in motors and power electronics for electric steeringsystems to meet the demands of the worldwide growing EPS markets
  • Driving feel: Discuss ride comfort and handling challenges in active chassissystems to meet your customers’ expectations
  • ADAS: Learn how to optimally couple chassis systems with driver assistance functions for maximal driver safety

Experts from international companies such as PSA Peugeot Citroën, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, Continental, and many more will report first-hand experiences and best practices.

2nd International Conference Chassis Electrification 
Don’t miss the “2nd International Conference Chassis Electrification”, taking place 11-13 May 2011 at the InterContinental Frankfurt, Germany.

Coupling chassis systems – The greatest test is sitting in the driver’s seat

Car manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to enhance the design and quality of their vehicles. One way is through the use of coupling chassis systems. These are different types of coupling joints that can be added or used in connection with a car’s steering, braking and electrical sensor systems. The goal is to provide a safer vehicle for the consumer as well as one that maximizes driver comfort. Each part of the car’s functions that can be improved by use of these items has been factored into their engineering process.

When couplings are added to the preliminary design of the automobile, it makes for a final product that features variables in the quality of road touring for the driver. Couplings strategically included in various elements of the chassis significantly impact many components of the car’s condition. It provides a better quality of driving pleasure and additional confidence in the way the car stops and rides. These are aspects of prime importance to consumers and, even if they don’t perceive each coupling in use, they will notice the difference when driving the car.

Coupling in braking systems

Adding features that will reduce issues such as vibration when the brakes are applied or during turns can improve the overall performance of the vehicle. The joints implemented along with changes in the designs focus on this priority as their goal. Thus, the driver benefits in terms of better control over the vehicle and a lessened risk of things such as the potential problem of vehicle rolling over on curves.

Actuators that are part of the coupling chassis system help with braking time, i.e. how fast the vehicle stops. They also aid in keeping the car from vibrating excessively when the brakes are applied during an emergency stop. It is at such times that any defects in a braking system will naturally be the most noticeable. Car manufacturers are aware of how stressful having to slam on the brakes can be and thus make sure this aspect significantly offers a smooth halt to a car’s progress.

In conjunction with the actuator that is used in the drum and pad support mechanism, there is also the implementation of a rotary actuator. This assists with the balance of braking power between both wheels and also embellishes any smoothness in the braking power that is felt. These actuators have been designed to provide a braking system that optimizes its stopping capacity without adding any consequences to control of the vehicle. They help to guarantee that the vehicle remains under control without the risk of it sliding at an angle that might increase complications of steering during an emergency stop. Properly installed, actuators and other coupling features provide a higher level of safety to the driver.

It all is an elemental and essential reconfiguration of traditional designs to facilitate changes in the car’s handling during braking procedures. This reconfiguration won’t necessarily be obvious at first glance to the consumer due to its location. However, once the driver applies the brakes it will be very noticeable in the heightened sense of control compared to some other vehicles that have not implemented the coupling chassis system.

Coupling systems in sensor devices

The car’s sensor devices are another area where couplings have been utilized. These electronic units are given added durability and stability by the way couplings are introduced into the general design. This can reduce the chance of any unexpected malfunction of the sensor that would be the result of excessive vibration. While the main thrust of design would be to incorporate a layout in the car of an efficient use of sensors, the added facet of couplings simply provides a more cohesive function in keeping with the car’s overall function when being driven. That is why manufacturers invest the time to look at each part of car’s systems to determine where any couplings might somehow result in some beneficial quality for the consumer.

With all the various wires and units needed in modern cars, it only makes for a more tangible and working system when any possible detractors are eliminated. Issues such as the risk of high speed traveling inducing a failure in a sensor mechanism is one of the elements that engineers have to consider when making their initial designs. With the help of coupling systems, the sensors can become more reliable and therefore less inclined to malfunction due to anything like road vibrations.

The aggressive acquisition approach to the types of coupling chassis control technology focuses on in variable means for providing realistic strategies for usage. The managing and proper function of design strategies is so integral to the final product that it eventually results in what comes off the assembly line being a model of efficiency and craftsmanship. Each degree that the designers can reach in the recognition and proper structure of a given car leads to these elements being both beneficial to the eventual car owner.

It all is part of the process in streamlining any original ideas that arise with regards to coupling chassis systems and then tailoring them to be totally workable within the given manufacturing guidelines for a particular car. These require a great deal of forethought and preparation in order to be sure the theories and concepts eventually have a practical application with genuine results noticeable by the consumer. With all the experience engineers have from trying different options in coupling chassis design, they have been able to slowly produce a refined prototype, which compliments the objectives of the coupling chassis systems.

Coupling in steering systems

One more area that the coupling chassis system focuses on is in the area of steering. Again, couplings that work in tandem with the way the car responds during turns and at higher speeds is what makes them safer for the driver. Each part of the steering system, including the steering wheel, the power steering system and links between the steering wheel and the tires must all be examined for their optimum nature as vehicle mechanisms. Anything that could diminish a car’s reaction when the steering wheel is turned is considered when couplings are added to the design. No-one wants the risk of driving a car that is unstable in curves or shakes too much when making a turn. So engineers will naturally review each stress point in the linkage and give a great deal of thought on ways it can benefit from the addition of any couplings. Though at times the net impact may seem minor in terms of its benefit, when it is all incorporated through a complete assessment of the coupling chassis systems, it will reveal the actual improvement is vital. The goal naturally is to improve the quality of the overall performance of the car along with the ways any use of couplings can affect safety, control and other significant parts of driver functions when behind the wheel.

Space is a factor

When attempting to insert a coupling into any system of the car’s chassis, it is also important to consider the space available. Some areas such as the braking system or the power system unit only have so many inches of possible usage space on the chassis. There is no possible way to just expand any areas on a car’s design in order to allow from a huge coupling addition. Thus, engineers must also be very creative with their use of both size and space when making their designs. Plus, they must also make sure the coupling still functions as intended.

Keeping promises

These are all part of the constant vigil in design and the ways to make a car more of a pleasure to drive are always under review. Many hours are invested into looking at any given design and continually asking how it can be improved. When couplings are involved, this is even more critical, since it is an added feature not necessarily considered from the beginning; some vehicles wholly lack this option.

Under the current evolving auspices of automotive design, couplings have thus added a new venue for innovative thought. Designers are always looking for one more way in factoring couplings into a given car’s chassis system to figure how it will improve the car.

No-one wants to invest the kinds of money necessary to purchase a car that has been regarded as technologically advanced that instead reacts very poorly when actually driven. The quality advertised in commercials doesn’t matter if the reality once you get behind the wheel totally contradicts the promise. Those in charge of design are aware of this fact and thus don’t take unnecessarily short cuts when they prepare their designs. Making sure the final product with any coupling chassis system features actually works as intended will always be of primary concern before the car is put into final production.

How smoothly a car drives is fseen as another sign of its quality. It is not enough for the vehicle just to look great. If you can’t drive it for more than a few miles without it shaking or otherwise giving you problems in the area of control you will most likely not consider it as a quality product. This is one more reason that engineers feel the burden to inspire confidence in their products. They know that such details when a car doesn’t operate correctly will get passed on by unhappy consumers. This can also affect other aspects in the long run such as the resale value of a car – if that given car earns a reputation for being less than satisfying when driven, it will decrease the demand when it happens to come up for resale as a used car.

These are all things the engineers must remember when working on their designs. The car manufacturers are totally aware of how times have changed in the automobile industry and no manufacturer can afford to avoid making a car that is known for quality. True, consumers will always consider things such as gas mileage and warranties, yet an adequate and efficient coupling chassis design is a defining, albeit often unknown factor, in the consumer’s satisfaction.

When it is all finally drafted and a prototype finally prepared the engineers will hopefully have been successful at turning theory into reality. They will have succeeded in turning out a product that incorporates the best and finest elements in coupling chasing technology. Those who have invested their energies in such tasks do so with the desire to make sure their technological skill yields the right kinds of results. Fortunately there have so far been enough successes that have proved their efforts are very worthwhile.

Ultimately, there is only one way to know if a coupling chassis system is all the manufacturer claims. That comes from sitting behind the wheel and actually testing the car on the road. Those who produce cars which include coupling systems do so with the belief that you will appreciate and recognize how it has improved a given car’s comfort and quality. They are not shy about making sure their product lives up to their promises.

Chassis Electrification
Don’t miss the “Chassis Electrification” Conference, taking place 11-13 May 2011 at the InterContinental Frankfurt, Germany.

The challenges of Chassis Electrification

The electrification of an increasing number of formerly mechanically and hydraulically powered chassis systems is currently one of the major challenges faced by chassis engineers. The strong rise in the number of electrical chassis components not only adds a new dimension to driving comfort but also enables the integration of a range of indispensable safety features.

New technologies such as regenerative braking can improve the fuel economy of a vehicle significantly, and are therefore a major key to a mass implementation of electro mobility. In this context, the electrification of braking systems is one of the big challenges faced by chassis engineers. The role of pedal sensors for the electric brake system is an important one, since electric brakes don‘t have mechanical link between the driver and the brakes. Therefore, appropriate sensing systems have to be developed. The basic function of the brake pedal unit for the electric brakes is to transfer driver’s intention of applying brakes to the control module.

Functional requirements need to consider safety aspects, a fast response, a wake-up system on the pedal movement and pedal feed emulation. Several risky situations can be created by some malfunctions of the brake pedal unit, such as:

– Loss of brake
– Reduced deceleration
– Undesired increased deceleration
– Undesired sudden braking
– Undesired constant braking
– Retarded braking

Therefore, safety strategies and concepts need to be developed. For the implementation of the solutions, many aspects have to be considered like the synchronization of multiple sensors due to mechanical and electrical tolerances and the relationship between different sensing parameters.

Find out more about the role of pedal sensors for the electric brake system by downloading the presentation of Konrad Slanec, SensorDynamics AG.

New speaker: Alain Gilberg from PSA Peugeot Citroen / Autosar

We have the pleasure of announcing that Alain Gilberg will be joining us as a speaker on the upcoming conference on Chassis Electrification. More details on the conference will be posted soon.

Alain Gilberg is at PSA Peugeot Citroën since 1990 and is currently working in the powertrain and chassis division in the electronics department where he is responsible for technical policy regarding electronics and software developments.Deeply involved in innovation in this domain, he is the project leader for PSA Peugeot Citroën in the AUTOSAR project since 2003 when PSA became core partner of this project.A few years ago he has been involved in the research projects AEE and ITEA EAST-EEA, which were dealing with the standardization of electronic architectures in the automotive domain and can be considered as one of the origin of the AUTOSAR initiative of which he is a speaker in 2011.

For further details on the 2nd International Conference Chassis Electrification, please click here.