Today’s increasing demands placed on vehicles in terms of increased power, reduced emissions, maintenance and energy consumption, and end of life cycle issues related to recycling and disposal have made vehicle life cycle design a very important issue. However, life cycle issues are typically not concurrently addressed during the development stages. In this paper, our interest is in determining vehicle frame design specifications that include technical as well as environmental life cycle considerations. The design of an electric vehicle space frame is used for our study. Technical performance and environmental life cycle considerations are taken into account, represented by the travel distance between charges and an environmental life cycle assessment, respectively. These considerations are mapped into structural and safety issues, which represent the critical vehicle frame design constraints. In order to rapidly explore the design space and perform trade-off studies, response surface models are constructed and used to characterize the physical behavior of the space frame. The purpose of our research is to provide designers with a decision support tool that will enable them to efficiently and effectively include and investigate life cycle considerations early in the design process. This is our primary emphasis in this paper, not so on the results of our example problem, per se.

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