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Technical Paper

A Numerical Approach to Evaluate the Aerodynamic Performance of Vehicle Exterior Surfaces

This paper outlines a process to assess the aerodynamic performance of different vehicle exterior surfaces. The initial section of the paper summarizes the details of white-light scanning process that maps entire vehicle to points in Cartesian co-ordinate system which is followed by the conversion of scanned points to theme surface. The concept of point-cloud modeling is employed to generate a smooth theme surface from scanned points. Theme surfaces thus developed are stitched to under-body/under-hood (UB/UH) parts of the base vehicle and the numerical simulations were carried out to understand the aerodynamic efficiency of the surfaces generated. Specifics of surface/volume mesh generated, boundary conditions imposed and numerical scheme employed are discussed in detail. Flow field over vehicle exterior is thoroughly analyzed. A comparison study highlighting the effect of front grilles in unblocked condition along with air-dam on flow field has been provided.
Journal Article

Aerodynamic Development of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt

This paper presents some of the challenges and successful outcomes in developing the aerodynamic characteristics of the Chevrolet Volt, an electric vehicle with an extended-range capability. While the Volt's propulsion system doesn't directly affect its shape efficiency, it does make aerodynamics much more important than in traditional vehicles. Aerodynamic performance is the second largest contributor to electric range, behind vehicle mass. Therefore, it was critical to reduce aerodynamic drag as much as possible while maintaining the key styling cues from the original concept car. This presented a number of challenges during the development, such as evaluating drag due to underbody features, balancing aerodynamics with wind noise and cooling flow, and interfacing with other engineering requirements. These issues were resolved by spending hundreds of hours in the wind tunnel and running numerous Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analyses.