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Active aerodynamics may be the next evolution of fuel-efficiency

An example of Magna's Actero Active Aerodynamic Systems. Actuators increase or decrease aerodynamic drag to suit conditions.

By Mike Davey

Aurora, Ontario — September 20, 2016 — Fuel-efficiency is of primary concern to auto manufacturers as they strive to hit targets laid out by national governments. These efforts invariably impact the repair process in some way, especially as much of what we’ve seen in recent years focuses on the materials used in vehicle construction.

Lightening the weight of the car is an obvious solution. However, it’s not the only way to meet those targets. Substituting aluminum and carbon fibre for steel will certainly lower the vehicle’s weight, but those materials are still very expensive.

Increasing engine efficiency is one way, but further developments to the internal combustion engine are running into the law of diminishing returns. There will be further developments, but it seems very likely that we aren’t going to see any groundbreaking advances in gas-burning internal combustion engines.

Computer aided design and the use of wind tunnel testing has also increased the aerodynamic efficiency of modern vehicles. There are doubtless still ways to improve a vehicle’s aerodynamic profile, but this too is likely reaching the point of diminishing returns.

Enter Magna International. The company has been developing what it calls active aerodynamic systems. The stated goal of Magna in introducing this technology is to help manufacturers clear regulatory hurdles.

Actero Active Aerodynamic Systems from Magna include exterior vehicle systems such as active grille shutters, active front deflectors and others.

“Our Actero Active Aerodynamic products represent new opportunities and expand our innovative portfolio which offers unique solutions to our customers,” said Grahame Burrow, President of Magna Exteriors.

Magna debuted its first active aerodynamic product in 2012. The company’s business in this area has grown significantly since that time. A statement from Magna says the trend is expected to continue.

“Delivering innovative solutions such as our active aerodynamic systems provide added value for our customers as they work towards meeting rising fuel economy standards,” said Swamy Kotagiri, Magna’s Chief Technology Officer. “Commercializing cleaner technologies is one of our key focus areas for innovation.”

The latest Actero product to reach the market is a visible active grille shutter system on a 2017 European luxury vehicle. All Actero systems are controlled by “smart actuators.” These interface directly with the vehicle’s electronics and deploy the aerodynamic systems as needed, based on variables such as the vehicle’s speed.  

You can check out more about Magna’s Actero Active Aerodynamics system in the video below. More information on Magna is available at magna.com.

 

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