Innovation and Technology


The heaviest part of an automobile is the autobody, comprising about 40 percent of the total weight. If CO2 emissions caused by traffic are to be further reduced in the future, lighter constructions and thus new ideas in autobody construction are needed.

Aerodynamic Research by FAT

Aerodynamic research by FAT promotes action on climate

The German automotive industry has set itself the target of making ground-breaking steps towards reducing CO2 emissions. Even though today’s vehicles are already powerful and conserve resources, efficiency is still being increased. Alongside new engines, optimised transmission, hybrid propulsion systems and lightweight construction, innovative development is concentrating in particular on vehicle aerodynamics that reduce consumption.

Aerodynamic measures are especially effective precisely for reducing customer consumption. Here optimisation of wheel arches in the body can make a large contribution. A vehicle’s wheels are responsible for up to 30% of its aerodynamic resistance.

The potential impact of aerodynamics in bringing down consumption is very much dependent on speed. At higher speeds – even from around 70 km/h upwards – the impact is considerable. Reducing the drag coefficient by 10% decreases consumption by approx. 1.5% in the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). If the vehicle maintains a constant speed of 120 km/h, this reduction in the drag coefficient actually brings consumption down by 3 to 4%.

The OEMs and suppliers in the working group 'Aerodynamics' of the Research Association of Automotive Technology (FAT) have been carrying out joint research in a three-year project. The results are used in the implementation of new constructive measures for reducing the air resistance due to wheels and wheel arches. This benefits the latest generations of vehicles. The research projects used the most modern wind tunnels with realistic simulation of the road conditions with rotating wheels and moving belts. The aerodynamic research was largely carried out at appropriate university institutes of fluid dynamics and aerodynamics. Aerodynamic computer simulations on mainframe computers supported the development.

The Research Association of Automotive Technology (FAT) unites more than 50 major German companies from the automotive industry, including all the passenger car and commercial vehicle manufacturers, and suppliers. FAT is tasked with conducting joint pre-competitive research into road vehicles. Manufacturers, suppliers and academics work together in a fruitful dialog to create the bases for new products.

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