Vehicle simulation software

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This article contains information on available vehicle performance and emissions simulation software.



In this summary we give an overview of the comparison between several vehicle simulators, including AVL’s ADVISOR, which was already used in the initial study of how different alternative fuels effect vehicle performance. ADVISOR was initially chosen because of its simplicity and ability to simulate a variety of fuels. However, since new versions have come out, we are also comparing this along with the rest of the available simulators.

List of Simulators Considered

ARGONNE National Laboratory


(Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation)

  • Addresses technology improvements over time
  • Separates fuels and vehicle technologies into near- and long-term options
  • Good resource for later more in-depth research on alternative fuel emissions


(Powertrain System Analysis Toolkit)

  • Dynamic model command-based model allows it to be transportable from computer modeling to physical testing
  • More complex and longer simulation time (slower) than ADVISOR
  • Predicts fuel economy and performance more accurately than ADVISOR
  • Contains Highly advanced component models – more accurately represents component dynamics (ie: engine starting and warming-up, shifting, clutch engagement, etc)



  • Easy to use static model - runs fast & creates simple models
  • Analyzes efficiency vs. hybridization & generic cost
  • Simulates performance and provides trends
  • Shows how conventional, advanced, light, and heavy vehicles use, and lose, energy throughout their drivetrains


  • Mostly used for fuel economy & engine design – efficiency
  • Build your own engine from scratch
  • Possibly more useful for later stages of engine design/analysis as highly detailed specifications required (also interfaced from CRUISE)


  • Simulates and optimizes driving performance, fuel consumption and emissions, transmission ratios, braking performance
  • Modular concept: Use existing model elements (vehicle type, engine type, clutch, transmission, control elements, shafts, flange, wheels, etc) to create your own engine
  • Short calculation times


MOBILE6/MOVE (Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator)

  • Executable software that estimates emissions for on-road and non-road sources
  • Covers broad range of pollutants
  • Fine-scale analysis to national inventory estimation
  • Good resource for later more in-depth research on alternative fuel emissions
  • MOBILE6 is only for land vehicles; MOVE is the newest version from EPA and contains information for both land and water


RAPTOR (Rapid Automotive Performance Simulator)

  • Contact sounded hostile on the phone
  • Don’t know much about this one
  • Can provide more details than PSAT
  • Possibly more complicated than PSAT

Simulator Categories

Simulators that Focus on Engine Simulation

Simulator Type: engine thermodynamics & internal flow analysis Usage: probably more useful in the future when an ideal engine design is decided Model Base: physical laws

	Pros	Cons

BOOST • allows you to build a detailed model of the entire engine • customize designs for individual engine parts • too low-leveled • need plenty of knowledge on how an engine works (physical theories, part dimensions, etc.) • does not give much feedback about vehicle performance

Simulators that Focus on Predicting Aggregate Emissions

Simulator Type: evaluates energy and emission impacts of advanced vehicle technologies and new transportation fuels Usage: detailed information on wide variety of emissions - good possibilities for use in the future Model Base: collected sample of emission data

	Pros	Cons

GREET • many new fuels and engine types available • these are free models • calculates emission factors • does not give feedback on vehicle performance • spreadsheet format models MOBILE6 & MOVES

Simulators that Focus on Vehicle System Performance

Simulator Type: vehicle concept simulation Usage: evaluates and gives feedback on vehicle performance and emissions based on design Model Base: testing of existing engines & emission sampling

	Pros	Cons

ADVISOR • easy to use • fast run time • limited fuel & engine types CRUISE • similar to ADVISOR with more advanced simulations • provides fast and flexible modeling of any kind of drive train configuration • more complex than ADVISOR & maybe harder to use PSAT • wider variety of engine and fuel types • expensive • slow run time RAPTOR • also looks similar to others • unable to reach SwRI

Simulator Details



  • Examples
  • Interfaces
  • Validation
  • Primer
  • User's Manual


  • light to heavy duty


  • engine: conventional, electric, hybrid
  • fuel: diesel, gasoline, fuel cell


  • Benchmarking exercise by NREL, industry, and other national labs reveals closely matched predictions by all participants
  • Benchmarking with PNGV Systems Analysis Toolkit version 1.7 gave similar results
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute validated ADVISOR using data from their award-winning FutureCar competition series hybrid entry.
  • Performance of various drivetrain components validation by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL)


• engine (general) o engine size o engine speed (rpm) o species transport: general/classic o mixture preparation: internal/external o cycle: 2 or 4 –stroke o engine friction • pipes • cylinder o chamber geometry (cylinder head shape, piston top shape, etc) o engine chamber wall thickness & material (cast iron, steel, aluminum, ceramics) o valve/port data • turbocharger: simplified/full • turbine (7 types) • fuel o type o lower heating value o stoichiometric ratio


• fuel consumption (fuel economy) • transient simulation (acceleration/deceleration) • acoustic analysis from microphone (intake/exhaust orifice noise) (dB) • combustion & emission analysis • transmission efficiency



  • A/T Losses Module
  • Interface Manual
  • Theory Manual
  • Primer
  • User Guide
  • Variomatic Manual


  • All existing and future vehicle concepts
  • light to heavy duty vehicles (motorcycles, passenger cars, trucks, etc.)


  • engine: conventional, electric, hybrid
  • fuel: diesel, gasoline, fuel cell, hydrogen, methanol


  • AVL research


• characteristic data o engine type: gasoline, diesel o charger type: without, turbo charger, tc with intercooler o engine displacement, working temperature o # of cylinders, strokes o Inertia moment for all parts of engine o Response time (time engine needs to build up full power) o Max speed • Fuel type • Other things (Idle, Friction models, engine layout, etc.)


• Driving performance (acceleration behavior, climbing performance, traction force) • fuel consumption and emissions • Engine speed, torque, temperature history • Power consumption of the auxiliary units • Acceleration energy (rotational, translational) • Theoretical and / or achievable maximum speed


  • This simulator is similar to ADVISOR but offers more complex simulations that may make it harder to use.
  • We have the software for this already but still need to get license from AVL to use it.
  • To get license:

o Send physical address of your computer to and tell them you are getting the license for Sandy from CMU. If this isn’t enough please let me know! The guy who was helping me is Russell Truemner Senior Project Engineer Thermodynamics & CFD



  • Manuals and training available online


  • light to heavy duty


  • conventional
  • fuel cell
  • electric
  • parallel & series hybrid
  • power-split hybrid


  • Validated using vehicle, component, & drivetrain tests (PSAT-PRO dedicated to prototypling was necessary for drivetrain testing)


• Component sizing • Component characteristics • Drivetrain configuration • Vehicle mass • Control strategy (when accelerates, decelerates, shifts) (aka driving cycle) • Parameters (how long takes to reach desired speed, maximum grade at desired speed, etc) • Table for scaling different components (?)


• Fuel consumption & emissions • Vehicle performance (energy, power, efficiency, torque, speed, current, voltage) • Transmission ratios


  • Command-based model
  • Over 150 predefined configurations
  • Compatibility with drivetrain configuration & with other component models taken into account
  • Easy to compare different cars with same driving schedules (or compare same car with different driving schedules)
  • More complicated than ADVISOR
  • Much slower than ADVISOR
  • Predicts fuel economy & performance more accurately than ADVISOR



  • Nothing?


  • light to heavy duty
  • trailers


  • conventional, fuel cell, hybrid/electric, solar-powered


  • research done at Southwest Research Institute



  • Vehicle emissions & performance
  • Fuel economy
  • Driving cycle effect on vehicle emission/ fuel economy


The most promising simulator found so far are RAPTOR developed by SwRI, AVL CRUISE, or PSAT by Argonne. As of now, it seems the best available match for our needs is the AVL CRUISE simulator since we already have the software and manuals for free – we only need to send AVL the physical address of the computer we want to use the software on in order to obtain the license.

SwRI’s RAPTOR also seems useful but we were unable to reach anyone who can help us acquire a free educational version of the software. A third promising choice was PSAT by Argonne, but it may cost us a lot of money to get this simulator. Nevertheless, AVL is definitely the most supportive in our research needs.

There is still a chance that PSAT and/or RAPTOR will become available to us in the future so included are some contact information if needed. However, according to the documentation and software received, CRUISE seems like a more advanced version of ADVISOR, which is what we want. It is also developed by the same company and placed under the same product category, which means it will have many similar functions.


Contact Information

ARGONNE Name: Paul Betten Area: Licensing information Email:

AVL Name: David Higbie Position: Director Phone: 734.354.3747 Email:

EPA Phone: 734.214.4939 Email: SwRI (Southwest Research Institute) Name: Michael Kluger Position: Assistant Director Phone: 210. 522.3095 Email:

Name: Gary Stecklein Position: Director Phone: 210.522.2973 Email:


The initial text for this article was written by Sandy Hsieh & Ali Gitomer as a report for the Design Decisions Laboratory.


[1] AVL. 2005. CRUISE version 3.0 User’s Guide.
[2] AVL. 2005. ADVISOR 2004 – Virtual Vehicle Analysis.
[3] AVL. 2005. CRUISE Version 3.0.
[4] AVL. 2005. BOOST Engine Cycle and Gas Exchange Simulation.
[5] ANL. 2006. The Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) Model.
[6] ANL. 2006. Powertrain System Analysis (PSAT) Model.
[7] EPA. 2006. MOBILE Model (on-road vehicles).
[8] EPA. 2006. MOVES (Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator).
[9] SwRI. 2006. RAPTOR (Rapid Automotive Performance Simulator (RAPTOR).
[10] SwRI. 2003. RAPOR: A Virtual Vehicle Test and Development Environment. PowerPoint.
[11] Michalek, J. J., P. Y. Papalambros, S. J. Skerlos. (2004) “A Study of Fuel Efficiency and Emission Policy Impact on Optimal Vehicle Design Decisions,” Transactions of the ASME, v126 p1062-1070.

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