Exa Corporation’s executive shares his view on the Model 3’s design and aerodynamics
Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) Chief Elon Musk said during the Model 3 unveiling that the $35,000 vehicle will be able to travel at least 215 miles on a fully charged battery. Earlier this week, the company’s VP of Investor Relations Jeff Evanson confirmed that the automaker will be using a battery pack of smaller than 60kWh.
The small battery capacity implies that the compact sedan’s aerodynamic performance will be essential to achieve the expected range, similar to its predecessors, even with higher battery capacity. During the Model 3 event, Mr. Musk also stated that the vehicle will achieve 0.21drag coefficient (Cd), making it the most aerodynamic mass-market vehicle ever built.
The world’s most popular EV maker uses Exa Corporation’s digital stimulation to design its vehicles. Electrek reported Exa VP of Ground Transportation Applications, Ales Alajbegovic’s views on the Model 3’s aero innovation, after viewing the product prototypes on March 31.
According to the executive, the “turbine-blade styling” of the vehicle’s new wheel designs, which are expected to be included in the production model, not only look appealing and fresh; it also directs the air flow under the vehicle’s body to reduce drag.
He added: “That’s smart. Tesla could have used an active aero solution that closed the vanes on the wheels at speed, but they chose not to. In fact, it appears there are no active aero devices on the Model 3, which reduces the cost of making it.”
Model 3’s grille-less front fascia is similar to that of the Model X and the new Model S. Regarding the mass-market sedan’s aerodynamic features of the front-end design, Mr. Alajbegovic said:
“Here only the shape remains. A more wedged front end, such as used by rear-engined Porsches, might well be more desirable aerodynamically, but Tesla could be using the grille shape with its rounded edges to control the air flow over the top or round the sides of the car.”
He added: “The Model 3 also employs air curtains in the lower fender that exit ahead of the front tires to provide a drag-reducing air stream over the wheels, while helping the flow transition smoothly around the sides of the vehicle. The underbody is likely to be flat and smooth, ending with a rear diffuser to control the air coming from under the car.”
To illustrate the importance of aerodynamics, Ales estimates that by reducing the Model S drag figure from 0.32 to 0.24, Tesla managed to increase the range of the car by about 50 miles.