Aerodynamics Works Only as a Holistic Concept

Aerodynamically optimized vehicles – one of the most important topics in the automotive industry. This is because less air resistance, resulting from a streamlined design for example, means less fuel consumption and lower emissions. Röchling Automotive supports its customers to reduce resistance with its innovative plastic solutions.

First and foremost, this requires a holistic approach – from the design of the exterior surfaces to the underbody and aerodynamically active components. “Cooperation is the only way to unlock full potential,” says John Bednarchik, Product Manager Aerodynamics at Röchling Automotive. This also applies to aerodynamic components, which need to be developed in consideration of one another as a system in order to achieve favorable interactions.

If, for example, active grille shutter systems are developed alongside the underbody systems, this will have a positive impact on the aerodynamics of the vehicle. Studies by the Röchling Automotive team in Worms, Germany, show that favorable interaction between active grille shutters (AGS) and underbody systems improve air resistance by 35 percent. If the exterior vehicle surfaces are also developed together with the AGS and underbody systems, the aerodynamics increase further. One thing is certain: The AGS significantly influence the airstream around the vehicle. The same applies to the active front spoiler from Röchling Automotive, which has different aerodynamic effects when it is retracted and when it is exposed.

Constant tests are required to optimize a vehicle in terms of its air resistance. This takes time. This is why the automotive industry and its suppliers – like many other industries – are relying on computer-supported tools (see the report on AeroSUV on page 58). These are real-world simulations and include both physical and analytical options. For example, you can simulate wind tunnels with static and rolling ground levels. Flow dynamics are analyzed and optimized. Components and systems can be tested for leaks in various pressure chambers – all virtually. “All aerodynamic tools have their strengths and weaknesses,” says Bednarchik. But the trend seems to be heading towards using fluid dynamics models rather than wind tunnel models. These are known as computational fluid dynamic tools (CFD). This could result in time and cost savings. However, the most important thing for this aerodynamics expert is: “Regardless of how efficient the system we use is – we always need to ensure that the aerodynamics of vehicles are working together as a holistic system. All aerodynamic features are interdependent.”


John Bednarchik

Röchling Automotive

Product Manager Aerodynamics

Phone: +1 248 837-1904

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