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The University of Southampton


The UK Automotive industry is a significant manufacturing, export and research and development sector, generating some £55bn in annual turnover and was the UK's largest export sector (~11%, £27bn) in 2011. It produced some 1.58m vehicles and 2.5m engines in 2011 and currently encompasses: 7 volume car manufacturers 8 commercial vehicle manufacturers 10 bus and coach manufacturers 8 F1 teams and largest concentration of F1 expertise 8 premium/sports car manufacturers ~2350 component suppliers, from niche to global supply chain Within this key, expanding engineering led industrial sector, the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton leads in many related aspects of vehicle aerodynamics, engine testing, novel combustion techniques, composite structure technology, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), hybrid energy systems, ergonomics and human factors, automotive electronics, and race car design, construction and competition within the IMechE/SAE international Formula Student competition.

There are many related technical, policy and economic challenges facing this sector, and we aim to train and enthuse future engineers to be capable and confident enough to tackle such issues as:

  • 1. Continuing engine emission reductions (e.g. the average new car CO2 is now ~133g/km in 2012, a 20% reduction that has been achieved over the last decade)
  • 2. The increasing price of fuel and hence the need to improve overall energy efficiency (including reducing vehicle mass (e.g. lightweight composite materials), aerodynamics, traffic management etc.)
  • 3. Increased electrification of transport to address energy efficiency and emissions issues, both within the vehicle drivetrain (e.g. hybrid cars) and components (e.g. electric power steering) 
Wind Tunnel testing and characterisation of Indy car
Indy car in the wind tunnel
Numerical simulation of turbulent autoignition in ethylene fuel jet – used to understand and then model combustion processes in diesel engines.
Turbulent autoignition simulation
Southampton University Formula Student Team (SUFST) at Silverstone Competition July 2013
Formula Student 2013
Solidworks CAD model of 4 cylinder Porsche Boxer engine…undertaken as a student exercise
Student project model

The University of Southampton also offers training in, and research use of, a complementary range of leading edge facilities including:

  1. wind tunnel test facilities
  2. engine dynamometers
  3. rolling road dynamometer
  4. anechoic chambers
  5. computational design and structural analysis, including access to supercomputing facilities
  6. driving simulators
Rolling road
Driving simulator
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