Edmund Rumpler’s 1921 Tropfenwagen was the first series-produced aerodynamically designed automobile, before the Chrysler Airflow and the Tatra 77. Autoalbum 03 PDF drag coefficient is a common measure in automotive design as it pertains to aerodynamics. Drag is a force that acts parallel and in the same direction as the airflow.
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The drag coefficient of an automobile impacts the way the automobile passes through the surrounding air. The reduction of drag in road vehicles has led to increases in the top speed of the vehicle and the vehicle’s fuel efficiency, as well as many other performance characteristics, such as handling and acceleration. The two main factors that impact drag are the frontal area of the vehicle and the drag coefficient. The deletion of parts on a vehicle is an easy way for designers and vehicle owners to reduce parasitic and frontal drag of the vehicle with little cost and effort.
A roof rack is a common trait on many SUV and station wagon vehicles. While roof racks are very useful in carrying extra storage on a vehicle, they also increase the frontal area of the vehicle and increase the drag coefficient. Mudflaps are now rarely specified as standard on production cars as they interfere with the clean airflow around the vehicle. For larger vehicles such as trucks, mud flaps are still important for their control of spray, and in 2010 a new version of the mud flap was introduced that has been shown to create significantly less aerodynamic drag than standard mud flaps. A rear spoiler usually comes standard in most sports vehicles and resembles the shape of a raised wing in the rear of the vehicle. The main purpose of a rear spoiler in a vehicle’s design is to counteract lift, thereby increasing stability at higher speeds.
Side mirrors both increase the frontal area of the vehicle and increase the coefficient of drag since they protrude from the side of the vehicle. While they do not have the biggest impact on the drag coefficient due to their small size, radio antennas commonly found protruding from the front of the vehicle can be relocated and changed in design to rid the car of this added drag. The most common replacement for the standard car antenna is the shark fin antenna found in most high efficiency vehicles. Another alternative is to equip the vehicle with a single wiper placed in the centre of the windshield, allowing it to cover both sides of the windshield. This mitigates the amount of drag by decreasing the frontal area of the blade. While such application may be useful for racing, for most road vehicles this would produce minimal improvement in overall drag reduction. When air flows around the wheel wells it gets disturbed by the rims of the vehicles and forms an area of turbulence around the wheel.
In order for the air to flow more smoothly around the wheel well, smooth wheel covers are often applied. Smooth wheel covers are hub caps with no holes in them for air to pass through. Air curtains divert air flow from slots in the body and guide it towards the outside edges of the wheel wells. The front grille of a vehicle is used to direct air directly into the engine compartment. In order to reduce this impact a grille block is often used. A grille block covers up a portion of, or the entirety of, the front grille of a vehicle.