Effect of Rear-End Extensions on the Aerodynamic Forces of an SUV 2014-01-0602
Under a global impulse for less man-made emissions, the automotive manufacturers search for innovative methods to reduce the fuel consumption and hence the CO2-emissions. Aerodynamics has great potential to aid the emission reduction since aerodynamic drag is an important parameter in the overall driving resistance force.
As vehicles are considered bluff bodies, the main drag source is pressure drag, caused by the difference between front and rear pressure. Therefore increasing the base pressure is a key parameter to reduce the aerodynamic drag. From previous research on small-scale and full-scale vehicles, rear-end extensions are known to have a positive effect on the base pressure, enhancing pressure recovery and reducing the wake area.
This paper investigates the effect of several parameters of these extensions on the forces, on the surface pressures of an SUV in the Volvo Cars Aerodynamic Wind Tunnel and compares them with numerical results. To decrease the dependency of other effects within the engine bay and underbody, the SUV has been investigated in a closed-cooling configuration with upper and lower grille closed and with a smoothened underbody. These results might change if the study would be conducted with a less smooth underbody and in an open-cooling configuration. Extensions with different shapes and dimensions have been placed around the perimeter of the base exterior. The chosen design philosophy of the extensions allowed for different combinations with variable inclination angles depending on their position along the base perimeter, multiple extension lengths and shapes to be investigated.
The results show that the extension shape is an important factor in reducing the aerodynamic drag. Significant drag reductions could be obtained while maintaining the vehicle's rear lift within acceptable levels for stability with a kicker attached to the extension. The investigation shows the reduction with a kicker holds for up to 7.5° yaw angles. With a beneficial shape, the extension length can be significantly reduced. The reduced drag is visible in the wake by a more concentric wake.