Latest technological innovations and societal trend focus our attention to clean energy, vehicle light weighting, electrification and autonomous driving, which in turn quicken the pace and drive the complexity into the next generation vehicle development. New manufacturing process such as additive manufacturing opens up new opportunities to bring the product fast to market and promises benefits of more versatile design, weight reduction and part consolidation. To fully take advantage of the new process, we need to rethink and retool our design and analysis practices.
These trends spur the need for new tools and processes to address and improve the early phase of vehicle development. A systematic approach to optimize the mass and performance of a typical automotive body and frame structure has to be developed to meet those challenges. The innovation in methodology involves the identification of critical design progressions to efficiently handle new vehicle configuration such as battery electrical vehicles, new performance requirements, new materials, additive manufacturing processes, and efficient light weight designs. A multidisciplinary optimization approach to achieve the optimal balance between performance, mass and cost, while accounting for design variations and their impact on the performance reliability, has been developed to meet those new challenges with great success. The totally integrated process allows design and performance engineers to synthesize design concepts in a more seamless fashion. The benefits of this approach are innovative designs, shortened vehicle development time, balance of major load requirements and reduction of total body mass, material and construction cost.
Simon Xu is Engineering Group Manager for Vehicle Optimization at General Motors Technical Center in Warren, MI and is responsible for innovations of optimization tools in vehicle architecture development. Simon leads a team of experts focusing on optimization techniques
such as parametric modeling, morphing, topology optimization, generative design and multi-disciplinary optimization. Through his team’s effort and influence, GM’s virtual vehicle development has been continuously improved by the implementation of new tools and processes with benefits in vehicle performance, mass, cost and fuel economy. He has also played a major role in GM’s advance technology programs which developed new electric and hybrid vehicle concepts and the optimal use of alternative light weight materials and new
additive manufacturing process for future vehicle programs. He chairs the GM Global Optimization Focus Group and approves the publications of GM corporate guidelines on optimization processes. He received Boss Kettering Award in 2013 and again in 2016, GM’s highest honor for technical achievement in innovation. He had one patent and one patent pending and numerous internal GM records of inventions. He is also a member of Global Automotive Management Council.