Towards virtual product development in the automotive sector – opportunities and barriers

Date: July 14th 2021 – 10:00 AM to 10:45 AM BST



Today the automotive industry has a hard won reputation for robust validation processes but we are still vulnerable to unexpected use cases finding holes in our processes and there is far too much routine testing. There can never be enough testing to be certain of eliminating risk. In addition, there is very little re-use of data outside of the immediate ‘customer’. This is a huge missed opportunity. We need better and faster product validation, even as complexity increases. To achieve this, the automotive sector aims to make product validation (and verification) 95% digital by 2040. Today we are at perhaps 5% digital. We need to move to a new paradigm – Test once, simulate many times.

The talk will lay out the future direction we need to take to make this bold vision a reality, identify the key challenges and introduce some of the steps we can take to overcome them. This will be illustrated using examples from the research ongoing within Institute Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS). A closely related concern is training and skills – how will we nurture people with the right skillsets and outlook to drive this revolution? The talk will introduce programmes in place at Bath to train future leaders in this field.


Chris Brace is Professor of Automotive Propulsion and Academic Director of the Institute Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems. Chris is Co-Director of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Propulsion Systems. Chris leads the Advanced Propulsion Centre Spoke for Thermal Propulsion System Efficiency and chairs the Academic Advisory Board of FISITA (Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Ingénieurs des Techniques de l’Automobile). He is a past chair of the Automobile Division of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

Prof. Chris Brace, University of Bath,
Bath, UK

Chris leads a wide portfolio of propulsion systems research into topics including hybrid Diesel and SI engine systems, electrification, advanced transmission systems and driving behaviour. The research has two main themes. First – new technologies that can deliver more sustainable propulsion systems. Secondly – the design of new techniques to support the automotive sector progression towards a more virtual product development process. These strands come together through the development of novel and intensive measurement and simulation techniques for multi physics processes, leading to greater insight into system behaviour under dynamic operating conditions.

All of Chris’s research is in collaboration with industry, most notably Ford Motor Company and Jaguar LandRover. Chris has published over 120 conference and journal papers with over 50 industrial co-authors and attracted over £18 million for collaborative research funded by EPSRC, DTi, TSB/Innovate UK, APC and directly from industry