SEMA Vehicle Dynamics Technology Program

In 2007, the Federal Government established a safety standard mandating installation of Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems on all new passenger cars by September 1, 2011. Significant in that regulation was the mandate that after September 1, 2012 any vehicle that had been modified must maintain ESC functionality. The Specialty Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA) undertook a program to understand how vehicle modifications may interact with ESC systems.  SEMA’s goal was to make comprehensive design evaluation techniques available to all members with products that involve suspension/tire modifications.

The program includes a co-op approach among SEMA members to help make the cost of measuring the data required for simulation of each vehicle affordable to all participants; the use of software from Mechanical Simulation to develop a generic model to help all of SEMA’s members evaluate their products on these templated vehicles; establishment of a database using kinematics and compliance data measured by Morse Measurements; access to hardware-in-the-loop simulators (dSPACE and ETAS) for product evaluation; and a test matrix developed by Advanced Controls Engineering Consultants (ACEC) with Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) for demonstrating engineering due diligence.

The original purpose and benefit of this program was to help members quickly and affordably evaluate the impact of their products on ESC systems, but it has now grown to provide evaluation and analysis of the overall vehicle dynamics performance of aftermarket modified vehicles. A combination of appropriate simulation and vehicle testing (facilitated by Link Engineering) can now be tailored to the specific needs of a SEMA member. Product evaluation and design capabilities that were once exclusive to OEMs and Tier One suppliers are now accessible to SEMA members that choose to use them.

“The ESC program allows Superlift and other participating companies to provide consumers with the confidence they’re looking for in suspension products and their manufacturers when modifying new vehicles that will be used on a daily basis. ESC systems are mandatory on all new production vehicles by the end of 2012. Through SEMA’s ESC [Vehicle Dynamics] program, we have achieved a real solution for tackling this obstacle, not only ensuring that products function properly but also going the extra mile to make sure that the OE safety systems will perform when needed as outlined by the NHTSA mandated Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 126. It could not have been accomplished without the help and assistance of SEMA and our other partners.

SEMA fights and guards against potentially damaging legislation every day. Because of the association’s efforts, most of this legislation never gets to the point of becoming a real issue. Being a SEMA member is like health insurance for your business, hobby or lifestyle. SEMA provides benefits to member businesses every day, whether they see them or not.”

—Tim Watts, Vice President Sales & Marketing
Superlift Suspension Systems