Aerodynamics plays a significant contributor to the fuel economy of automobiles. At highway speeds more than 50% of the energy consumption is used to overcome aerodynamic drag of the vehicle. Optimizing the aerodynamic performance of automobiles therefore has huge implications to total cost of ownership of the vehicle by virtue of reduced fuel consumption. This in turn leads to reduced emissions and conservation of greenhouse gases (GHG). While automotive aerodynamics has been a focus area at most original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for a long time, there is renewed focus in this area with the upcoming, stringent CAFÉ regulations that are requiring an average fuel economy (FE) of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) for all passenger cars sold in the United States. Just to put things in perspective, the average fuel economy of passenger cars in 2013 was 36 mpg and light duty trucks was 25.3 mpg. The 2025 CAFÉ regulations represent a significant shift and will need systematic and sharp focus in developing the next generation of passenger cars and trucks. Specifically, aerodynamic performance will be a key contributor to achieving the targets in addition to lightweight materials, improved powertrain efficiency etc. The execution of this project will further enhance Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) Groups leadership in designing highly aerodynamic and fuel efficient vehicles in the future. The output from the project has the potential to help speed up product development that will help reduce time to market and in achieving future CAFÉ regulations.
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