Hitting Design Targets Up-Front

Global automotive manufacturers face increasing pressure from government regulations and consumers to improve the efficiency of their products and reduce particulate and greenhouse gas emissions. This is driving the need for diesel, electric, and hybrid power trains, continuous improvement in aerodynamic efficiency, and reductions in vehicle weight. Consumers demand improved quality and durability — without any compromise to innovative and emotionally expressive designs. Manufacturers must offer a broader array of vehicles for different niche customer segments and geographies with wider ranges of operating conditions, on a faster design refresh schedule than in the past.

SIMULIA PowerFLOW external aerodynamic simulation of these BMW vehicles demonstrate transient visualization of wake structures.


Animations of SIMULIA PowerFLOW external aerodynamic simulation of these BMW vehicles demonstrate transient visualization of wake structures. Visualizing and sharing this information (along with drag & lift data) across departments helps engineers to develop efficient vehicles while maintaining attractive styling. Images courtesy of BMW AG.

These goals often conflict, requiring automotive manufacturers to make careful trade-offs of competing values. Thus, the automotive designer’s task is not to create the most attractive, fastest, quietest, or fuel-efficient car, but rather a car that sufficiently satisfies the design preferences, and functional and quality expectations of its target customer; offers fuel efficiency within a desired target range; and can be brought to market on time at an acceptable profit. This need to optimize the balance of industrial design, performance factors, cost, and process efficiencies is a continual challenge for the automotive industry.

The old methods of product development are no longer sufficient. Building prototypes to test performance and assess quality is not only very expensive, but the engineering team needs to understand the design trade-offs very early in the product development process — months or years before any prototype could be built. Simulation-driven design not only provides feedback earlier and in a more useful form than traditional approaches, but in many areas simulation has reached a level of accuracy and robustness that is sufficient to enable a manufacturer to rely solely on simulation results for design decisions and tooling sign-off without prototype testing.

Many of these design challenges (including aerodynamics, thermal management, noise, and cabin comfort) are heavily influenced by the complex fluid flows over and through the vehicle. SIMULIA has the solution. SIMULIA PowerFLOW’s unique, inherently transient Lattice Boltzmann-based physics enables it to perform simulations that accurately predict real-world transient conditions on the most complex geometry. PowerFLOW imports fully detailed vehicle geometry, and accurately and efficiently performs transient aerodynamic, aeroacoustic, and thermal management simulations. SIMULIA solutions enable you to rapidly create, evaluate, and propose alternative designs that meet all the requirements. Using the PowerFLOW suite, you can evaluate product performance early in the design process — when change has the smallest impact on both the design process and engineering budget. PowerFLOW applications have been fully validated and are in deep productive use at many of the world’s premier automotive manufacturers.


The PowerFLOW suite offers solutions for the following automotive applications:

AERODYNAMICS Aerodynamic efficiency (drag); handling; driving dynamics; soiling and water management; and panel deformation

AEROACOUSTICS — Greenhouse wind noise, including propagation to the interior; underbody wind noise; sunroof and window buffeting; gap and seal noise; community noise; and cooling fan noise

THERMAL MANAGEMENT — Cooling airflow; thermal protection; brake cooling; electronics and battery cooling; drive cycle simulation; rise over ambient (intake port); and key-off and soak

CLIMATE CONTROLCabin comfort; HVAC system and fan noise; HVAC unit and distribution system performance; and defrost and demist

External aerodynamic sideview of Nissan Azeal. Streamlines on plane illustrate velocity and path of airflow along automobile.