Genovation Cars: aerodynamic modeling of a high-efficiency automobile

Electric Car

Business Description

Rockville, Md.-based Genovation Cars designs and builds pure electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). The company is currently developing the G2, a two-door, four-seat, hatchback PHEV with an electric-only range of 50 miles and 300-mile capability with a range-extending generator. The G2 is designed for simplicity, safety, low-cost manufacturing and off-the-shelf availability of parts made in America. The company’s objective is to provide its customers with safe, sustainable automobiles that do not compromise their driving independence or pleasure.

Challenge

A major challenge when designing any fuel-efficient vehicle is minimizing aerodynamic drag while maintaining a style that is attractive to buyers.  Predicting the drag coefficient using computer simulation is a standard procedure, but wind tunnel testing is essential to ensure stability under various pitch and yaw situations. The results of these tests provide essential data to vehicle suspension designers.

MIPS Role

The Glenn L. Martin Wind Tunnel is perfectly suited for testing vehicles. A small business such as Genovation Cars could not afford the cost of privately contracting with a commercial wind tunnel to run these tests. The data contributes enormously to future passenger safety, which is worth much more than fuel savings.

Results

Tests demonstrated that the original computational fluid dynamics modeling was accurate and reliable, giving the  company confidence in using the model for future design modifications. More importantly, the large data set produced through testing can be used by the suspension design team and eliminate trial-and-error design in the future.

Genovation

MIPS-Related Quote

“The MIPS program enabled Genovation to achieve a critical success factor in the most cost-effective means possible. One of the biggest aspects related to automobile efficiency is air resistance. Typically, around 60 percent of the power required to cruise at highway speeds is used to overcome aerodynamic drag. This percentage increases significantly the faster you go.  Automotive aerodynamics is also critically important for safety reasons, most notably to increase downforce. Great care was taken to design the G2 with a healthy amount of downforce and aerodynamic stability.”

–-Andrew Saul, CEO, Genovation Cars

Project Manager:  Steven Rogers;  Principal InvestigatorJewel Barlow, UMD
Location:  Rockville, Maryland – Montgomery County;  Project Start Date:  8/1/2011

Leading up to (and beyond) the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) 25th Anniversary Gala, we will frequently profile one (or more) of the 500+ companies that have utilized MIPS funding to bring innovations to market and create jobs in Maryland.

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