Design and Development of Active Underbody Aerodynamic Device for SUV Market

Paper #:
  • 2018-01-0734

Published:
  • 2018-04-03
Abstract:
The underbody region of a road vehicle is one of the highest contributors to drag on vehicles. This adversely affects fuel consumption and the emissions produced by the vehicle. This paper reports the development of one the first of its kind dual-purpose underbody device, that can be actively deployed using either speed sensors or driver’s input, catering to the high-performance SUV market. This system incorporates an active front spoiler working in conjunction with an active advanced side skirt. A prototype of the device was developed specifically for a Chevrolet Trail Blazer, and tested under static and dynamic scenarios. The active underbody system reduced drag by preventing the turbulent airflow from the wheel housing from disrupting the underbody flow of the vehicle. This feature enhanced the ground effects of the vehicle by further increasing downforce, while also restricting cross airflow from disrupting the underbody flow of the vehicle. Furthermore, the active side skirts were developed to be utilized as a side step for easy access for passengers. The developed prototype was tested in a wind tunnel at wind speeds between 80 km/h and 140 km/h with yaw angles of 0˚, 7.5˚, and 15˚. A dynamic set of tests were also performed, using the SAE coast down procedure, to determine the rolling resistance of the vehicle. The test results showed that drag was reduced by 8-12% at varying yaw angles dependent on the wind speed. Moreover, the coast down tests showed a reduction in vehicle losses by approximately 3.5% at a speed of 120 km/h, where the reduction in vehicle losses were directly proportional to vehicle speed.
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