Mercedes to maximize electric car driving range with active aerodynamics

mercedes benz electric car active aerodynamics iaa transformer concept  intelligent aerodynamic automobile
With gasoline and diesel powered vehicles, particularly when fuel costs are low, aerodynamic design is largely a matter of style. Electric vehicles, however, can’t recharge as easily, quickly, or conveniently as cars and trucks powered by petroleum products can fill up. Range anxiety, too, is a major factor with electric car owners who have to plan routes carefully when traveling out of their home areas.

So if electric cars can get greater range by virtue of aerodynamics, style takes a back seat to driving distance as a design imperative. Most vehicles have a fixed aerodynamics drag coefficent. With “active” aerodynamics, however, the air resistance — drag — of a vehicle can change as body parts are moved.

Mercedes-Benz recently dropped hints about active aerodynamics in future electric cars, according to Electrek. Without mentioning specific future models, Anke Kleinschmit, Daimler vice president of group research and sustainability and chief environmental officer, spoke to SAE International about the importance of both weight and aerodynamic design with electric cars.

Regarding aerodynamics, Kleinschmit said, “The potential for reducing air resistance has not been exhausted, although it will slow down. As long as there are no major changes in the basic architecture of vehicles — like their length and form — there is an asymptotic limit of about 0.20 Cd with “conventional” vehicles.

“With a drag coefficient of 0.22 our CLA, which we introduced in 2013, is coming quite close to this. Finding the best solution for portability, space and our overall design philosophy can be further supported with active aerodynamic measures, like our “Transformer” Concept IAA’s features.”

The Transformer concept vehicle, which was revealed last year, has a sleek style in any case, but at speeds in excess of 50 mph it “transforms.”  As described by Mercedes, “front flaps in the front bumper extend by 25 mm to the front and 20 mm to the rear, improving the air flow around the front end and the front wheel arches; the Active Rims alter their cupping from 55 mm to zero; and the louvre in the front bumper moves 60 mm to the rear, improving the underbody air flow.”

When the Transformer is at speed, its drag coefficient drops to 0.19, which minimizes wind resistance and therefore can increase vehicle range. Which specific design features will be employed with future Mercedes electric models wasn’t detailed. Clearly, however, the advantages of active aerodynamic design will play a part.

Weight reduction of course will also play a role in range extension. For the most expensive cars, carbon fiber parts and panels can cut weight. Carbon fiber’s high cost rules it out for anything but premium performance vehicles. For weight reduction with other models Mercedes focuses on hybrid steel and aluminum alloys.

Product Review

Mercedes-Benz updates the timeless G-wagen for the modern world

For decades, the G-Class has been an outlier in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, a body-on-frame brute with the soul – and driving manners – of an off-road pickup. With the all-new G550, Mercedes seeks to smooth out some of the rough edges.
Cars

Kia is bringing a bionic-looking electric concept car to the Geneva Auto Show

Kia wants to hog the spotlight at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show by revealing a head-turning electric concept car. The yet-unnamed model reaffirms the brand's commitment to electrification, while taking design and performance to new levels.
Cars

Citroën says you could drive its tiny Ami One electric car without a license

Citroën's Ami One concept car is an electric vehicle that's as cute as it is compact. The miniature motor only has a top speed of 28 mph, so the French automaker imagines it as a shareable runaround for short drives.
Cars

Amazon plugs in with $700 million investment in electric pickup company Rivian

Amazon invested $700 million for a minority stake in U.S. all-electric truck maker Rivian, according to a joint release. The announcement follows a Reuters report that GM and Amazon might invest $1 billion to $2 billion in the company.
Cars

Waymo rules and Apple trails in California self-driving car benchmarks

California's DMV releases annual reports of self-driving car disengagements on public roads. In the most recent reports. Waymo had the best performance, GM Cruise came in second, and Apple's self-driving program was in last place.
Cars

Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.
Cars

Mamma mia! Alfa Romeo will unveil a new model at the Geneva Auto Show

Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It stopped short of revealing what it has in store, but rumors claim it will be a crossover positioned below the Stelvio.
Cars

Arizona city slammed with $10M lawsuit over fatal Uber autonomous car accident

The family of Elaine Herzberg, the woman struck and killed by one of Uber's self-driving prototypes, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona. They claim Herzberg jaywalked because she was confused by a brick…
Cars

Mercedes lets the sun shine in one last time with SLC Final Edition convertible

The Mercedes-Benz SLC convertible sports car is going out of production. Launched in 1996 as the SLK, the model has been a fixture in the Mercedes-Benz lineup across three generations.
Cars

Aston Martin’s next hypercar, due in 2021, will pack a hybrid powertrain punch

Aston Martin will follow up the Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro with a new hypercar, code-named Project 003. The car will debut in 2021, with production limited to 500 units worldwide.
Cars

Apple opens up about its self-driving car program in letter to NHTSA

Apple has traditionally kept details about its self-driving car technology under wraps, but it has revealed details about the program in a rare instance of openness. The company takes safety seriously.
Cars

Tesla will release fully self-driving cars in 2019 — with a big asterisk

Tesla reaffirmed its goal of releasing a fully self-driving car by the end of 2019, but it warned the system won't work perfectly 100 percent of the time. Convincing regulators that it's safe to use will require some effort, too.
Cars

Consumer Reports bumps the Tesla Model 3 off of its list of recommended models

The Tesla Model 3 is one of the six new cars that have lost their coveted Recommended rating from Consumer Reports over reliability concerns. In 2018, Model 3 owners reported body trim falling off and problems with the car's glass.
Cars

Lyft’s Shared Saver service offers cheaper rides, but you’ll have to walk a little

Lyft has launched a new ride option called Shared Saver that offers cheaper rides if you're willing to walk a little. Shared Saver designates a nearby pick-up point and drops you off a short distance from your final destination.