CAS E ST U DY
DONKERVOORT AUTOMOBIELEN BV
Advancing high-performance sports car design with SolidWorks Simulation
Using SolidWorks Simulation Premium
and SolidWorks Flow Simulation
analysis software, Donkervoort
resolved difficult structural and
aerodynamic challenges in the
development of the D8 GTO.
The search for perfection in quality, technology, styling, and design has driven Donkervoort
Automobielen BV since Joop Donkervoort founded the sports car manufacturer in 1978.
Donkervoort’s combination of appealing styling, ultralight weight, high-power output, and
fantastic road-tracking agility has produced sports cars that behave like racecars, to the
delight of driving enthusiasts around the world.
Every Donkervoort automobile is built by hand, and the company produces roughly 50
cars annually. Donkervoort’s quest to produce the perfect sports car has increasingly
relied on advanced design and simulation tools, according to Head of Design and
Engineering Jordi Wiersma.
“We push the boundaries of what is possible, increasing horsepower while maintaining the
light vehicle weight that is critical for enhanced maneuverability,” Wiersma says. “In essence,
we create cars that behave like Formula One racers, but with the aesthetic attributes of a
classic roadster. To do this, we need engineering tools that help us develop workable designs
quickly and cost-effectively.”
Until recently, Donkervoort used 3D CAD software—first IronCAD®, then SolidWorks®—
for design, and outsourced its aerodynamic and structural simulation work. The quickening
pace of sports car development led the engineering staff to seek its own internal
“On the D8 GTO (introduced in 2011), we moved from the Audi 1.8-liter turbo four-cylinder
engine to the Audi 2.5-liter turbo five-cylinder engine,” Wiersma explains. “This gave us more
power—jumping from 270 to 400 horsepower—but also increased engine weight from 125
to 196 kilograms. To compensate for this weight gain, we had to redesign the vehicle and
needed CFD (computational fluid dynamics) and advanced structural simulation tools to do it
on time and within budget.”
After evaluating CFD analysis packages, including SolidWorks Flow Simulation and FLUENT®,
and nonlinear structural simulation systems, including SolidWorks Simulation Premium and
ANSYS®, Donkervoort selected SolidWorks Simulation tools.
Advance world-class sports car design
by increasing horsepower and improving
aerodynamics, while simultaneously
managing weight for agile maneuverability,
airflow for smooth-running engines, and
heat for top performance.
Implement SolidWorks Flow Simulation
computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis
software to manage aerodynamics, airflow,
and engine cooling, and SolidWorks Simulation
Premium structural analysis software to validate
innovative hybrid chassis designs using nonlinear
• Cut number of prototypes required
by 50 percent
• Increased product sophistication
• Improved aerodynamics and performance
• Introduced structural innovation in sports
“We chose SolidWorks Simulation because it provided all of the analysis capabilities that we
need in a single design environment,” Wiersma recalls.
“CAD integration is a must,” he adds. “We had experience working with outside consultants
who used other analysis tools. We often spent more time integrating analysis results into
our CAD system than we did applying those results to our designs. Working in a single
environment enables us to more efficiently use simulation while we design and apply these
insights to our design concepts in real time.”
“The automobile industry
is very competitive, and
we need to use cuttingedge technology like
and high-tech materials
to continue to
Head of Design and Engineering
Optimizing intake manifolds
The first projects for which Donkervoort used SolidWorks Flow Simulation involved
optimization of the car’s intake manifolds and airflow around the engine. “The intake manifolds
project was the most interesting,” Wiersma notes. “Through flow simulations, we identified
a pressure buildup in the intake manifolds that would inhibit air from reaching each cylinder
evenly, resulting in rough idling.
“By making the surfaces spherical instead of flat, we achieved autonomous airflow to all
cylinders and improved performance,” Wiersma adds. “We also looked at how air flowed around
the engine, leading to modifications. The benefit of addressing these issues in software is that
we reduce the time and costs associated with prototypes. Using SolidWorks Simulation tools,
we have cut the number of prototypes required in half.”
Resolving open-wheel aerodynamic challenges
A trademark of Donkervoort cars is the open-wheel design—the wheels are positioned outside
of the car body like a racecar. This contributes to the car’s ultralight weight and tight cornering.
However, it also presents aerodynamic challenges by creating additional drag.
“Rotation of the open wheel disturbs the airflow,” Wiersma points out. “We used SolidWorks
Flow Simulation to optimize the distance between the fenders and the wheels to reduce drag.
We also added wings to the rear fenders of the D8 GT coupe to deflect airflow and positioned
wings in the undertray/diffuser of the D8 GTO for increased down force.”
Managing weight with innovative hybrid chassis
The most difficult D8 GTO challenge involved keeping the weight of the car near 700 kilograms
when the larger engine alone increased the weight by 70 kilograms from the previous
650 kilogram model. “It wasn’t just the increased engine weight that was an issue,” Wiersma
stresses. “The boost in horsepower required structural strengthening—a snowball effect that
adds weight. This is where we needed simulation tools to help us increase the sophistication
of the car.”
Donkervoort used SolidWorks Flow
Simulation software to identify and address
a pressure buildup in the D8 GTO’s intake
manifolds, improving engine performance.
Donkervoort engineers created a hybrid carbon fiber-tubular steel chassis to add strength
while minimizing weight. Using SolidWorks Simulation Premium software, the company
conducted nonlinear force, stiffness, crash, and impact tests on the innovative steel/composite
chassis. Donkervoort also reduced engine weight by reconfiguring the “front end auxiliary
drive”, intake manifold, and clutch/flywheel assembly.
“The automobile industry is very competitive, and we need to use cutting-edge technology like
SolidWorks Simulation and high-tech materials to continue to be successful,” Wiersma says.
Donkervoort Automobielen BV
Leylystad, Flevoland 8218NJ
Phone: +31 (0)320 26 70 50
VAR: CADMES BH,
Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
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