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Loughborough University and Ford Collaborate to Replace EV Prototyping with Modeling and Simulation

October 29, 2019 by Luke James

The £39m Virtual Vehicle Integration and Development (ViVID) Project aims to replace EV prototyping with modeling and simulation.

Loughborough University has recently announced that it is working in partnership with Ford on a collaborative industry research project. It is hoped that the Virtual Vehicle Integration and Development (ViVID) Project will help bring the next generation of commercial electric vehicles (EVs) to market much faster. 


Meeting EV Market Demand

According to research by Carbon Footprint, the use of EVs is growing strongly across the globe as drivers are increasingly looking to get rid of their traditional carbon-powered vehicles in favor of cleaner and more modern EVs. With this research also suggesting that by 2040, 55% of all new car sales will be EVs, there is a growing pressure on manufacturers to improve the EV development cycle. 

Currently, EV development involves a significant phase of prototyping and practical testing. This is expensive, time-consuming, and leads to significant compromises in the final design which reduces overall performance. 

Dr. Georgios Mavros, an academic from Loughborough's School of Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical, and Materials Engineering said, "At the moment, there’s a lot of compromise in electric and hybrid vehicle development. For example, current simulation models of batteries and motors do not cover a sufficiently broad range of performance attributes to allow design optimisation of the whole vehicle in a virtual environment."

In order to meet the growing demand for the next generation of EVs that deliver on all their promises, significant improvements to the development cycle must be made. 


The £39m Loughborough and Ford Partnership

Academics from the School of Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering and the School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering at Loughborough have been awarded £3.1m to help develop the next generation of EV technologies through the enhancement of the virtual development process.

Building on their existing mathematical modeling and simulation expertise, the Loughborough team aims to optimize vehicles in a virtual environment and remove the need for physical testing. This will dramatically improve the cost-efficiency, time-to-market, and quality of the final EV product.

Continuing on from the above, Dr. Mavros added, "Simulation methods already exist but they’re underdeveloped for electric vehicles, we aim to take it to the next level."

“We will create improved models and use large-scale simulations to look at the combined performance and interaction of many sub-systems – such as the battery, motor, brakes (conventional and regenerative), control systems, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems – and how they operate as parts of a whole vehicle, rather than examine them in isolation."

An additional £39 million in funding has been delivered by the Advanced Propulsion Centre via the APC 11 competition to the university in its role as an academic partner in the ViVID Project. The project, headed by Ford Motor Company, aims to remove the engineering prototype phase of EV development and enable significant CO2 reductions by increasing the number of EVs that form part of commercial fleets. 


Electric vehicle (EV) prototype.

A Ford transit van undergoing tests at Loughborough University. The dynamometers connected to the wheel-hubs feed realistic road loads to the vehicle. Image Credit: Loughborough University.


As part of the three-year project, Loughborough's team will work in partnership with Ford to look at electrifying their famous Transit Van

Graham Hoare, Chairman and Executive Director at Ford Motor Company, said, “Following on from previously successful APC projects, Ford is delighted to be collaborating on an APC11 funded project called ViVID.

"The Advanced Propulsion Centre plays a vital role in bringing together the brightest minds in industry and research institutes to accelerate the development of game-changing products and keep the UK at the forefront of global automotive development. ViVID builds digital vehicle simulation capability and applies it to future electrified commercial vehicles. The goal is to accelerate the adoption of low and zero-emissions commercial vehicles by making them more affordable, capable and bring them to market faster."

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