Smart mobility - City Vehicle Aerodynamics
In this video, we’ll take a look at smart mobility and the role of aerodynamics.
1. Some context:
According to the United Nations, 60% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030. With cities already congested and polluted today, this poses a massive challenge to urban mobility.
So we’ll need to rethink the way we transport ourselves and goods, around & within cities as a whole, something called “Smart mobility”. We found many different definitions on this, so here’s our attempt to summarize it:
Smart mobility aims to use new technologies like:
1. high-speed data connections,
2. self-driving tech, new materials & propulsion methods to create 3. sustainable mobility. And very likely, this will be a
4. combination of different transport modes, like taking the car to the city to continue locally on the electric step, for example.
To improve flexible & efficient travel between and within cities, a consortium of industry experts from around Europe have created the Weevil project.
The weevil is a highly innovative three-wheeler with two wheels at the front and one at the back. There is even room for 2 people in tandem position.
This car solves the contradiction of needing a wide wheelbase for stability in corners and a small wheelbase to maneuver in tight traffic and parking spaces. They developed a suspension mechanism that allows the front wheels to move outwards at high speed and inwards at low speeds.
So practicality is covered, but what about efficiency? Of course, it’s electric, but you want to get as far as possible on a single charge. Or, make the battery smaller & lighter for a given range. In any case, reducing the energy needed to move around is key: even at intermediate speeds of 80 km/h, aerodynamic drag easily makes up for more than half of the power the battery needs to deliver.
4. The benefits
Luckily, having 2 people sit in a row rather than next to each other, greatly reduces the frontal area of the Weevil.
Another benefit of this setup is the possibility to give the car an aerodynamic drop shape, which closes behind the passenger, to reduce the wake.
And the rear wheel of the car is tucked away nicely at the end of this drop shape to prevent it from creating highly turbulent air as the rear wheels do on a normal 4-wheeled car.
5. The challenges
Also challenging for small cars is the fact that some components don’t scale down like mirrors and door handles. So it’s quite a challenge to keep their relative contributions to drag low. And with variable front wheel track width, the suspension is exposed to the external air. Therefore, the Weevil team paid a lot of attention to limit the drag penalty in wide track mode.
6. The design
Packaging all of this together in a good looking car is not an easy task. Luckily, with Masato Inoue, the former Chief Designer of Nissan who designed the Nissan Leaf, and Hexagon Studio, transportation design & engineering experts, the Weevil team managed to turn this concept into a stunning city car.
And there is yet another cool link between the Weevil project and aerodynamics: 25 years ago, Alberto Morelli studied new ways to reduce the aerodynamic drag of ground vehicles. And today, it’s his son, Massimo Morelli, who is handling all communications concerning the Weevil project.
So that was it for this video! I’If you liked it, please click the like button below and if you have any questions or comments, just post them below the video!
The AirShaper videos cover the basics of aerodynamics (aerodynamic drag, drag & lift coefficients, boundary layer theory, flow separation, reynolds number...), simulation aspects (computational fluid dynamics, CFD meshing, ...) and aerodynamic testing (wind tunnel testing, flow visualization, ...).
We then use those basics to explain the aerodynamics of (race) cars (aerodynamic efficiency of electric vehicles, aerodynamic drag, downforce, aero maps, formula one aerodynamics, ...), drones and airplanes (propellers, airfoils, electric aviation, eVTOLS, ...), motorcycles (wind buffeting, motogp aerodynamics, ...) and more!
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