UofL Vehicle Architecture Research Laboratory
Through its Vehicle Architecture Research Laboratory, UofL is involved in a range of automotive research activities supporting these objectives, with more than $4.2M in external funding from Ford Motor Company, Alion Corporation, the AISI Automotive Applications Committee, and the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC).
The Commonwealth of Kentucky has a vested interest in maintaining a healthy, internationally competitive U.S. auto industry:
Kentucky ranks third in the nation in vehicle production (1.07m), trailing only Michigan (2.28m) and Ohio (1.67m). 9.8% of all cars and trucks produced in the U.S. are manufactured in Kentucky.
The motor vehicle industry had an economic impact of $5.44 billion in 2006, 3.93% of the state’s GDP. In only Michigan and Indiana does the auto industry comprise a greater share of the state GDP.
Compared to other U.S. states and international , Kentucky maintains competitive advantages in energy costs, location, transportation infrastructure, and labor costs that will make it extremely competitive for future domestic and international assembly and supplier operations.
The continued viability of the U.S. auto industry depends upon an ability to design, manufacture, and service cars and trucks that are safe, functional, affordable, and most importantly, able to be operated using sustainable energy sources that have little minimal impact on the environment.
What is Vehicle Architecture?
Vehicle “architecture” can be thought of as the way subsystems (primary structure, powertrain, suspensions, etc.) are configured early in the development process to best satisfy design constraints. Since 1999, the VARL UofL has worked to develop methodologies, computer-aided engineering tools, and design guidelines that permit the vehicle architecture to be optimized before detail design begins. These efforts have focused on lightweight structures using advanced materials, and development of innovative computer software permitting functional optimization of vehicle layout, including incorporation of multi-fuel, electric, and hybrid powertrains.