Nissan technical centre Europe: the on-road vehicle NVH simulator

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The Company

Nissan Motor Company, Ltd. is a global automotive company with vehicle sales of 3,411,000 in 2008. Nissan was founded in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture in 1933 and today has sixteen production sites in Japan and abroad, and offers products and services in more than 160 countries worldwide. In 1999, Nissan entered into an alliance with Renault S.A. of France, which now owns 44.4% of Nissan. Nissan is among the top three Asian (also known as the Japanese “Big Three”) automotive manufacturers rivals of the “Big Three” in the US and is present in all major automarkets worldwide, selling a comprehensive range of cars, pick-up trucks, SUVs, and light commercial vehicles.

Nissan Technical Centre Europe

The Nissan Technical Centre Europe Ltd. (NTCE) was established in 1989 in temporary premises on the manufacturing site of Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd. as part of Nissan’s strategy to establish design and development capability in the major overseas markets. Today, with Headquarters at Cranfield Technology Park, Bedfordshire, UK, the NTCE has five subsidiaries in Spain, Belgium, France, Germany and Russia and over 1000 employees. NTCE’s European R&D delivers brand identity and customer-oriented engineering through new products and enhancing vehicle quality and attractiveness.

David Quinn is the Manager of NVH Development at Nissan Europe and has been with the company for eight years. Educated in Mechanical Engineering in Liverpool, his career has taken him from Ford to Lotus Engineering and AVL, the Austrian-based automotive consulting firm and independent research institute.

Paul Speed-Andrews is an Engineer in NVH Development, and is NTCE’s sound quality expert. He has worked under David Quinn at Nissan for the past four years. After graduating in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Birmingham, he spent six years working in the NVH Department at Jaguar Cars.

Advances in On-road Simulator Technology Enable Firm Targets for Delivery at Concept Phase

One of the great challenges of the NVH development process is to ensure that customers and stakeholders in the vehicle team are involved in sound quality decision making. Interactive NVH simulators have enabled a cost-effective, customer-focused method for capturing the opinions and decision-making processes of non NVH experts. The latest enhancement to the NVH Simulator approach allows the sounds of virtual vehicles to be evaluated while driving on-road. The sounds are created and presented to the driver in such a way that they appear totally natural and the assessor is not aware that they are synthesized. Since the subjective evaluations are performed on normal roads, key decision makers can understand, sign up with confidence to, and appreciate the value of the proposed sounds.

David Quinn says, “The Nissan Technical Centre at Cranfield is the R&D centre of excellence for Nissan. The On-road Simulator was developed here and has contributed to the UK centre taking the lead in Sound Quality Engineering, influencing not only Nissan Japan but also Nissan worldwide”. He continues, “With the On-road Simulator as a core development tool, the US and Europe are already sharing road noise models for global benchmarking and target setting. By sharing and comparing data, we can change the global development process and get more accurate results with fewer prototypes”.

Recently, the NTCE used the “On-road” and “Desktop” simulators at the concept stage to deliver an exciting sound to enhance and compliment a new B-segment vehicle. The tools were used to:

  • Set vehicle level sound quality targets to enhance the appeal of the vehicle, including customer surveys and the use of the On-road Simulator for final sign off at target confirmation drive events
  • Understand the path and source contributions of a donor vehicle and key competitor
  • Create and demonstrate a strategy for practical realisation of the vehicle level target

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