Nissan Wind Tunnel Test Surprise - Wheels Create One-Third of Vehicle Drag
Aerodynamics is an interesting field of engineering and design. In the automotive world, we all have come to be convinced that a jellybean shape is the certain outcome and that a large frontal area is the big enemy. But what if those assumptions are wrong?
In a new press release, Nissan outlines some of the design challenges it faced when shaping the new Ariya to slice through the wind. What we found of most interest was a statement by Sarwar Ahmed, an aerodynamics engineer at Nissan Europe. Mr. Ahmed states that, "The wheels and tires contribute around a third of the vehicle drag." Imagine that these components, which seem to be out of the direct path of the wind, contribute so much. That struck us as a big surprise. Thinking of that in its inverse, it means that the aerodynamic drag created by the entire front of the vehicle can contribute no more than 67% of the total.
Tesla isn't kidding when it puts aero wheels on a Model 3 apparently.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin