Truck and Sport Utility Vehicle Front End Stiffness Corridors

Paper #:
  • 2018-01-0518

Published:
  • 2018-04-03
Abstract:
A substantial number of side impact fatalities involve a truck or sport-utility vehicle (SUV) as the striking vehicle. While the body style of the SUV fleet has transitioned from primarily body-on-frame to unibody (UB) construction, few studies have examined if this results in different vehicle stiffness. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to characterize front stiffness response of contemporary SUVs and trucks. Vehicle front impact test data were obtained from data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA]. For all tests, force data were obtained from barrier load cells and stroke data were derived from accelerometers. Data from 53 truck and SUV tests were aggregated by class to obtain mean ± SD stiffness corridors: (1) compact UB SUV, (2) small UB SUV, (3) mid-size UB SUV, (4) frame SUV, and (5) frame truck. Across unibody SUV classes, stiffness varied from 1.3 – 1.5 kN/mm. Mean stiffness of frame SUV and truck was up to 69% higher than unibody SUV (2.2 vs. 1.3 kN/mm). Front bumper fascia was investigated as possible root cause for stiffness difference between frame and unibody SUV. In a subset of vehicles, styling offset from bumper structure was between 50 – 100 mm (unibody SUV) and 30 mm (frame SUV). When stroke was offset to mimic this geometry, mean stiffness responses generally agreed across body styles. This suggests that stiffness response may be similar after accounting for styling differences. As unibody SUVs may continue to replace frame designs to achieve mass savings, future work should confirm that styling accounts for this stiffness difference in more vehicles.
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