Modern vehicles are complex systems made of many different materials (metals, plastics, adhesives, foams and composites) and interconnecting components. The materials may interact with air, oil, moisture, and other environmental hazards during manufacture, shipping and storage as well as interacting with each other once they have been assembled in the vehicle and the vehicle enters into service. They may weaken, harden, corrode, or even fail. These physical and chemical changes in properties are often lumped together under the label "ageing." In this research theme analytical material models were identified and simulations performed for key structural and cosmetic materials used in Jaguar Land Rover vehicles.
Teams at Manchester and Sheffield University undertook three component case studies which featured different classes of materials: the instrument panel (or more specifically an air vent) based on polymer components; an engine mount which relied on elastomeric properties; and a traditional helical steel suspension spring. In each case materials models were developed to reflect how the materials' properties varied with age, or distance covered by the vehicle, and these in turn were used to predict how the component, and vehicle, would respond in time to these changes. A separate strand of the work was carried out by Prof.Lenny Koh's group at the Sheffield University Business School to assess the life cycle aspects of these changes and their impacts on component design. A customer study was also carried out as part of this work to investigate the end user's perspectives of component and vehicle ageing on the driving experience.