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Evaluating the aerodynamics of different passenger vehicle configurations
  • Soumik Piratla
Soumik Piratla
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Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Abstract

Aerodynamics, especially for passenger vehicles, have an enormous impact on the design and performance. Consequently, the design of the vehicle influences the drag and lift forces acting on it. When the drag force on the vehicle increases, or when the drag coefficient increases, the energy required to move the body in space increases. For a car, increased drag causes decreased speed and increased load on the engine and powertrain. Aerodynamic efficiency is especially critical to reducing fuel consumption and, thus, the vehicle’s carbon footprint. Aerodynamic efficiency is typically defined using the ratio of a body’s lift to drag, or the L/D ratio; thus, an efficient design maximises feasible lift while minimising drag. Increased lift often is produced from conditions like elevated speeds that also increase drag; trades must be considered for added features. Another consideration is minimising the wake of a vehicle, as it is heavily responsible for stability and drivability. It is therefore critical to determine which aerodynamic modification would best satisfy these criteria for each vehicle configuration. In this study, different vehicle modifications are explored, including the addition of spoilers, diffusers and curved front bumper profiles. Calculations and CFD analysis generally reserved for high-performance vehicles will be applied to passenger vehicles like SUVs and sedans in this study. The results show that on average a 16% reduction in drag coefficient and 232% reduction in lift coefficient across the board. The highest improvements in drag coefficient is seen in hatchbacks whereas the highest improvement in lift coefficient is seen in sedan and SUV cases.