VEHICLE AERODYNAMICS: THE NEXT FUEL ECONOMY FRONTIER

This article reports results of computer simulations by Volkswagen (VW) engineers showing that refinements in body shape yield better payoff than reductions in vehicle weight. For example, the most favorable approach for full-size cars was a combined reduction of weight and power. With both of these parameters reduced 25%, fuel economy improved 19% from the spark-ignited full-size baseline. By contrast, a 40% reduction in drag brought about a fuel economy benefit of around 13%. The full-size diesel profited somewhat less from reductions in power or weight than did its spark-ignited counterpart. A savings of 15% in fuel economy was realized through aerodynamic improvements alone. For subcompacts, 10% cuts in power and weight translated into 7% better fuel economy for both diesel and spark-ignited variants. With an assumed 30% reduction in drag, the computer predicted a 12% fuel economy benefit for the diesel, and one of 9% for the spark-ignited car. Research at General Motors on aerodynamic drag characteristics of hatchbacks is also reported.

Media Info

  • Pagination: p. 19-24
  • Serial:
    • Automotive Engineering
    • Volume: 86
    • Issue Number: 7
    • Publisher: Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)
    • ISSN: 0098-2571

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00183281
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Engineering Index
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 29 1978 12:00AM