Subframe Optimization of the University of Waterloo’s Chevrolet Malibu

In the past weeks, the University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) has been completely redesigning the rear subframe of their Chevy Malibu. UWAFT believes that the rear subframe is one of the best places to remove excess weight to improve overall vehicle weight and fuel efficiency. However, UWAFT must also ensure that the new design allows the vehicle to meet or exceed stress and stiffness safety factors, all while making sure that the part’s manufacturability isn’t negatively affected.

UWAFT's current rear subframe design

UWAFT’s current rear subframe design

The software used in the design and optimization of the rear subframe is Altair Hyperworks, which allows the user to create geometry, select properties, analyze the stress on the parts, and more. With some guidance from Altair, UWAFT has been constantly improving and tweaking the design.

The different sections of the new subframe must be able to pass various load case tests. The team has developed many iterations on the subframe so far and will continue to work until they’re satisfied with the design.