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An Introduction to Modern Vehicle Design

An Introduction to
Modern Vehicle Design





 There have not been many books

 published that concern themselves with the analytical design

of the complete motor vehicle. My source of inspiration for this work was Janusz Pawlowski’s

most interesting and informative Vehicle Body Engineering. However, this classic book is now

only of historical interest and it is the editor’s hope that this book may well take the place of

that book on the bookshelves of current motor vehicle designers. A change from this classic

book is that it is now impossible for one person to write knowledgeably about all aspects of

vehicle design. This reason has dictated that specialists in each field covered by this book have

written an appropriate chapter. This is a sign of how times have changed since the days of

Pawlowski, and is a trend that can only continue.

The text is intended to provide the reader with an introduction to most of the topics that are

of concern when a vehicle is being designed from the ‘clean sheet of paper’ stage. There are a

wide range of references alluded to within the text that the reader can draw upon for more

detailed information at the end of each chapter. Some of these references are drawn from the list

and briefly summarized indicating particular texts that the contributor has found interesting. It

is hoped that this will help the reader that any especial interest further.

It is hoped that this text will help to inspire engineers new to Automotive Engineering to take

up career paths in this field of engineering as I believe that all branches of engineering are now

involved with vehicle design.

Readers’ comments on the contents of this text will be welcomed so that their observations

will be of great assistance when the revised.

The aim of this chapter is to:

• Introduce the wide range of skills required for vehicle design and manufacture;

• Briefly set the historical scene and development of vehicles and their design;

• Introduce the vast range of possibilities for vehicle design;

• Demonstrate the interactivity of processes within the design and manufacture of vehicles.

1.1 Introduction

In the development of the motor vehicle, there are three readily identifiable groups of activities.

• technical innovation and refinement

• construction, configuration and styling

• methods of production, and manufacturing systems.

To the layman, the most obvious aspects of progress are technical innovations and styling

changes, but from a professional engineering viewpoint, the major achievements lie as much in

the areas of refinement and systems of manufacture. Innovations can be important in giving

manufacturers a competitive advantage, but new ideas often make their debut many decades

before they are widely adopted. It is the processes of refinement and production development

that make new technical features reliable and cheap enough for use in mass-produced vehicles.

1.2 Innovations and inventions

Engineering history is bedevilled by rival and sometimes false claims to particular inventions.

In reality, innovative developments have often been the work of several different engineers

working in parallel but quite independently, and the recognized inventor is simply one whose

name is well known, or who has been championed for nationalistic reasons. Many apparently

new inventions are, in any case, simply adaptations from different technologies. The differential

mechanism, for example, was used by watchmakers before being adapted for automotive purposes.

It is frequently difficult to trace the earliest examples of the use of a particular device or

mechanism. J. Ickx, 1992, describes how the Bollées (father and two sons) invented or adapted

an amazing array of devices in the late 19th century, including all-round independent suspension,

and power steering (originally applied to steam-powered vehicles). In 1894, the younger Amédée

produced a gas turbine, and later went on to invent fuel injection, supercharging, and hydraulic

valve lifters. All these devices are usually ascribed to other, later inventors.


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