The Effects of Wheel Design on the Aerodynamic Drag of Passenger Vehicles
Approximately 25 % of a passenger vehicle’s aerodynamic drag comes directly or indirectly from its wheels, indicating that the rim geometry is highly relevant for increasing the vehicle’s overall energy efficiency. An extensive experimental study is presented where a parametric model of the rim design was developed, and statistical methods were employed to isolate the aerodynamic effects of certain geometric rim parameters. In addition to wind tunnel force measurements, this study employed the flowfield measurement techniques of wake surveys, wheelhouse pressure measurements, and base pressure measurements to investigate and explain the most important parameters’ effects on the flowfield. In addition, a numerical model of the vehicle with various rim geometries was developed and used to further elucidate the effects of certain geometric parameters on the flow field.