Computational investigation into the sensitivity of a simplified vehicle wake to small base geometry changes

For vehicles with a squareback geometry, for example Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), base pressure drag is a large contributor to overall drag. Simple passive techniques, such as tapering, can reduce drag significantly but at a large aesthetic and functional cost. Therefore, very small base geometry changes have been investigated. An experimentally validated methodology has used Detached Eddy Simulations (DES) to obtain time-averaged and instantaneous data; allowing the effect of horizontal base slats on global forces and wake structures to be presented. The small geometry modifications have caused substantial changes to the base pressure distribution with the main mechanisms of change being identified and observed close to the model surfaces. A region of separation is seen below each slat corresponding to reduced pressure whilst high pressure regions attributed to stagnation are increased. The combined effect is a statistically significant drag reduction of 4 counts (1 count = 0.001 CD) when a slat is added at 3/4 of the base height. The results show the scope for very small changes to a simplified road vehicle, in areas that have not previously been explored, to reduce overall drag with minimal aesthetic penalties. This understanding provides the impetus for new approaches in real vehicle development.