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Vehicle Dynamics: a new way of understanding and optimizing

vehicle performance.


Vehicle Dynamics: A new way of understanding and optimizing

vehicle performance
Soares, Ana Cristina
MAN Latin America

Quintiliano, Bibiana
MAN Latin America

Dias, Rogrio
MAN Latin America
Copyright 2013 SAE International

Evaluation of vehicle performance is one of the most
important phases of the new vehicle development. Start Ability
and Top Speed are factors that are noticed by users, therefore
are very important to the final product. Vehicle performance
evaluation has been largely benefited from the use of
simulation tools. In fact, MAN Latin America (ML) employs
simulation programs to evaluate the performance of its
vehicles (trucks and buses) achieving good results. However,
those programs are normally closed codes which makes
difficult the physical comprehension of results. Altogether,
this article presents Vehicle Dynamics, a macro developed by
ML engineering team. The aim of this macro is the automatic
calculation of Start Ability, Grade Ability, Top Speed, among
other performance parameters. In order to make Vehicle
Dynamics faster and more elegant the macros interface was
created in commercial graphical language since it allows the
use of tools like Add, Replace and Select, among
others. Those options allow it to be faster and help adding data
as well as registering several gear boxes, rear axle ratios and
tires that are used by ML. Hence, Vehicle Dynamics enables
immediate and reliable evaluation of new products and as a
consequence, the choice of the best powertrain configuration.
Furthermore, Vehicle Dynamics was also designed in order to
be easy and didactic for users who want to have a deeper
understanding of vehicle behavior.

Vehicle performance evaluation consists in studying in an
analytical, numerical or experimental way the performance of
a given vehicle. In other words, to establish what the
maximum velocity that the vehicle will achieve is or the
maximum slope the vehicle will be able to negotiate, among
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other performance parameters. Therefore, vehicle performance

is basically the evaluation of a vehicle longitudinal dynamics.
The aim of this study is quantifying the main forces acting in a
moving vehicle (or even in a vehicle about to move),
understanding their nature and, finally, establishing an
equation to relate all those forces.

According to Gillespie [1], determining the axle loading on a
vehicles under arbitrary conditions is a first simple
application of Newtons Second Law:


Fx Forces in the x-direction,
Mveic Vehicle mass,
Acceleration at x direction

In order to visualize all the forces acting in a vehicle, a free

body diagram can be very useful. In figure 1, the mentioned
forces are displayed.

As mentioned before, the others forces showed on figure 1 act
against movement and, for that reason, they are called
Resistances. Those forces will be presented from now on.

Rolling resistance this resistance is originated from the

interaction between tires and road surface and it can be
calculated as
Figure 1 Arbitrary forces acting in a vehicle [1].


Rolling resistance force, N.
Vehicle mass, kg.
Surface coeficient, non-dimensional.
Tire static coeficient, non-dimensional
Tire dynamic coeficient, non-dimensional.
Gravity acceleration, m/s2

Mv Vehicle mass
Vehicle weight, acting upon front wheels,
Vehicle weight, acting upon rear wheels
Faer Force due to aerodynamic resistance
Ftrat Tractive force
Rxf, Rxr rolling resistances acting at frontal and rear

Aerodynamic Resistance defined as the resistance

Among the forces presented in figure 1, it can be seen the

tractive force which comes from engine torque and that is
responsible for vehicle movement. In contrast, the other
forces, like aerodynamics forces and rolling resistance forces,
act against movement. Since the comprehension of the nature
of those forces is vital to understanding vehicle dynamics, a
brief revision of them will be presented.

Tractive force
Engine torque is multiplied by gear box and rear axle ratio to
generate the propulsive force. According to Newtons Third
Law, a reaction to this force, that is called Tractive Force, will
Tractive force, N.
Torque generated by engine, Nm.
Gear box ratio, non-dimensional.
Rear axle ratio, non-dimensional.
Tire dynamic radius, m.

It is important to point out that tractive force is responsible for

moving the vehicle; therefore it must be enough to overcome
all resistance forces.

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caused by air to the motion of a solid body moving through it.

It is calculated as:
Aerodynamic resitance, N.
Aerodynamic resistance, N.
Air density, kg/m3.
Front area, m2.
Vehicle velocity, km/h

Grade Resistance On a grade, vehicle weight may have

two components, a cosine component which is perpendicular
to the road surface and a sine component parallel to the road.
This sine component acts against movement; therefore it is a
resistance [1]. This force can be calculated by the expression:
Vehicle mass, kg.
Gravity acceleration, m/s2

Movement equation

Power Speed

Once the main forces acting longitudinally in a vehicle have

been defined, it is possible to apply Newton Second Law in
order to relate them. Then:

Defined as the vehicle speed that is calculated at maximum

power rpm, taking in account only kinematic factors like gear
box and rear axle ratios, or in other words, not taking in
consideration all resistances presented previously. Power
Speed is calculated like:



From equations (2), (3), (4) and (5):






After equation (7) has been defined, several parameters used

to describe vehicle performance will be calculated, applying in
each case, the proper boundary condition.

Top Speed
It is the maximum velocity that a given vehicle can achieve at
a plane road, after having overcome all vehicle resistances.
Again, it is considered that vehicle acceleration is zero and, by
definition, that slope angle is zero. Altogether, equation (7)

Start Ability
Star Ability is defined as the maximum slope that a vehicle is
able to negotiate, once it starts from rest. By definition, Start
Ability is calculated at 1000 rpm. Besides, the acceleration is
considered to be zero. In doing so, equation (7) becomes:
( )


Since torque and velocity are function of rpm, it is not

possible to know previously in which rpm equation (10) will
be verified, as a consequence, the solution is iterative, as it
schematically showed in figure 2:


T1000 Available engine torque at 1000 rpm.

Grade Ability
Grade Ability is defined as the maximum slope that a vehicle
is able to negotiate, once it starts with a velocity different from
zero. Unlike Start Ability, which is calculated at 1000 rpm,
Grade Ability can be calculated over the entire engine range.
However, in general it is calculated at maximum torque rpm as
well as maximum power rpm. Applying the suitable boundary
condition, equation (7) becomes:
( )


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Figure 2 Iterative process for calculation Top Speed.

To begin with, a given rpm, rpm1, is chosen and the
correspondent torque, T1, and velocity, v1, are calculated.
Then, equation (10) is calculated in order to verify if the sum
result is zero. If not, another rpm, rpm2, is chosen and all the
process is repeated. There is only one rpm that verifies
equation (10) and to this specific rpm there is a specific
velocity. This velocity is Top Speed.


The calculation of the presented parameters is fundamental to
de analytical/numerical evaluation of a vehicle performance. It
is necessary to repeat those calculations every time that a
given vehicle powertrain configuration is modified. For
example, when gear box or tires are replaced. Nowadays,
naturally, those calculations are simplified by the use of
electronic macros. Even so, it is necessary to type long
equations, always taking care to modify a given parameters
every time this appears in an equation. For example, if vehicle
mass is modified it is necessary to update equations (2) and (4)
therefore, Start Ability, Grade Ability, and Top Speed will be
influenced. In face of it, it is clear that there is a need of an
automatic way of calculating those equations, in order to save
time (of typing) as well as make the calculation itself less
prone to errors. This was the main purpose of creating the
macro Vehicle Dynamics (in short, Dynamics), i.e., to make
the principal performance calculations automatic. To the
purpose of making the understanding of Vehicle Dynamics
easier, some sheets used to insert data, calculations and results
presentations will be presented.

As it is presented at figure 3, at the first table from data-sheet,

vehicle type, GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) are informed as
well as engine-torque curve. On figure 4, it is showed table 2,
where transmission type can be chosen. By clicking Choose
New Gear Box, a new dialog box opens, where several kinds
of gear boxes can be chosen. Additionally, there is a sheet
where it is possible to insert new gear boxes .

Data Insertion
The first sheet of Dynamics, which will be called data-sheet,
is used to insert all necessary data to carry out vehicle
performance evaluation. The data-sheet consists of three
tables, which will be presented in the following.

Figure 4 Data-sheet, table 2: inclusion of gear boxes


Figure 5 Data-sheet, table 2: choosing of desired gear box.

Figure 3 Data-sheet, table 1: insertion of GVW and engine
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Not shown in this paper.

Finally, table 3 is showed on figure 6. As it can be seen, there

are four buttons to select automatically rolling resistance
coefficients, RCest and RCdyn, tire dimensions, rear axle ratio
(RAR), and road type. In the several other fields showed it can
be inserted front area, aerodynamic resistance coefficient, air
density, in short, all vehicle data. Furthermore, on figure 7, it
is presented a dialog box for choosing RAR: at first user
chooses between single or double axle and then, the rear axle
ratio is chosen.

Figure 7 Data-sheet: dialog box used for choosing rear

axle type as well as its ratios.


Figure 6 Data-sheet, table 3: insertion of road type,

efficiency, front area, etc.

Once all data has been inserted, performance calculation is

almost automatic. In Dynamics there are 5 sheets, each one
related to one of performance parameters: Start Ability, Grade
Ability, Top Speed, Velocity and rpm. In each of those sheets it
is possible to visualize which data was used in the calculation.
For example, in Start Ability sheet, figure 8, it can be seen
GVW, torque at 1000 rpm, gear box and rear axle ratios,
among others. This possibility of consulting the calculations
allows the user to understand how a given parameter is
calculated besides knowing which factors are taken in account.
As a consequence, the user is able to evaluate how to improve
that parameter. For example, in Start Ability case, if the user
needs to enhance this factor, it is clear from figure 8, that the
easiest possibilities are choosing a gear box or rear axle with
different ratios. (Of course, it is possible to reduce GVW, but
this is not a viable alternative).

Figure 8 Start Ability sheet

There is only one sheet where calculation is not fully
automatic, that is, Top Speed, since it was explained before,
Top Speed calculation is iterative. Because of this, Top Speed
sheet was created in a way that the calculation presented on
equation 10 is performed over all engine rpm range. To each
pair torque/rpm, the macro calculates automatically the
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available tractive force (function of torque/rpm), vehicle

velocity (function of rpm) and resistance forces (function of
rpm). Then equation (10) is calculated repeatedly, until it is
This iterative process is showed schematically on figure 9.


The last sheet of Dynamics is the one where all results are
presented in a clear and self-understanding way. This sheet,
named Results, is showed on figure 10. The presented results
are Start Ability, Grade Ability, Top Speed, Power Speed,
besides the rpms to achieve the velocities of 60, 70, 80 e 90
km/h. Results sheet is very useful for the user that wants only
to have fast and reliable results, not needing to understand the
physics behind them.

Figure 9 Top Speed iterative calculation.

Figure 10 Results sheet.



Before starting to use any simulation program it is

fundamental that the user can trust the results generated by
this program. There are basically two ways of achieving a
significant grade of confidence in simulation programs. The
first is comparing simulation results with experimental ones
while the other is using another program that is reliable and
well established as a standard. In this paper, Dynamics results
were compared to a former macro used by ML, whose name is
Performance. This macro has been used for several years by
ML engineers, with excellent adherence with experimental
results. As a result, the comparison between Dynamics and
Performance was enough to validating the former. It is
important to point out that both macros, Dynamics and
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Performance, were created based on classical statics and

dynamics equations. Those equations do not need any kind of
validation. What needs validation, after all, is Dynamic macro
itself, beginning with the typing of all presented equations till
the automatic fulfillment of Start Ability, Grade Ability, Top
Speed, velocity e rpm sheets.
Table 1 Comparison between normalized results from
Performance and Dynamics. Several products from MAN
Latina America have been simulated.


Start Ability
Grade Ability Top Speed
Light Truck
Medium Truck
Heavy Truck

From table 1, it can be seen that the agreement between

Dynamics and Performance was excellent, for buses and
trucks. Based on those results, Vehicle Dynamics was
validated, being used nowadays by ML engineering team.

Numerical/analytical evaluation of vehicle performance is
based on several equations originated from statics and vehicle
dynamics. In some cases, those equations are virtually huge
besides taking in account several data like vehicle mass, front
area, engine torque, etc. On the other hand, the choice of the
best powertrain configuration requires the repetitive
evaluation of several gear boxes, rear axle and tires.
Altogether, it is evident that creating a macro able to calculate
all performance parameters in an automatic way is more than
desirable. Consequently, MAN Latin America engineering
team developed Vehicle Dynamics, a macro where parameters
like Start Ability, Grade Ability, Top Speed and Power Speed
are automatically calculated. Vehicle Dynamics was validated
based on analytical results, presenting excellent agreement
with them. For this reason, Vehicle Dynamics is being used
successfully by MAN Latin America engineering team.

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Gillespie, Thomas D., Fundamental of Vehicle

Dynamics, Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc.
Azevedo Jr, G., Apostila Performance Veicular,
Associao Eduacional Dom Bosco.

Ana Cristina Cosme Soares
Engenheiro Alan da Costa Batista, 100
Pedra Selada, CPI 4227
Cep 27511-970 Resende, RJ
Telefone: 5524-33811421
Bibiana Quintiliano

Authors would like to acknowledge engineer Geraldo
Azevedo Junior, for support with Performance macro and
engineer Frederico Braz e Silva for technical support. Finally,
authors acknowledge MAN Latin America for general



Tractive Force
Engine Torque
Gear box ratio
Rear axle ratio
Tire dynamics radius
Rolling reistance force
Vehicle mass
Tire rolling resistance, static
Tire rossling resistance, dynamic
Gravity acceleration
Slope angle
Aerodynamic force
Aerodynamic drag coefficient
Air density
Vehicle velocity
Grade force
Gross Vehicle Weight
Rear Axle Ratio

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