FCA What’s Behind – episode 4: the wind tunnel and aerodynamic development
The fourth episode of the FCA What’s Behind project describes the wind tunnel at Orbassano, to the south of Turin, where all FCA vehicles are tested, from city cars to SUVs and lightweight commercial vehicles.
Wind tunnel tests measure the braking force the air applies to the vehicle and measurement the resistance which the air applies to the moving vehicle at the different speeds. The objective is to research the aerodynamic optimisation of every model: indeed the vehicle's ability to cut through the air plays a crucial role in terms of energy efficiency and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
The facility was built in the 1970s and since then has benefited from continuous upgrades to integrate the most current technologies and constantly remain at the forefront of the field. Aerodynamics are studied using models to scale 1:1, produced with the aid of milling tools, which are very detailed: their shape reproduces all the details to be analysed with 99% accuracy in relation to the real model. This allows the performance of a number of checks ahead of the tests to be performed later on the pre-production cars.
The physical tests are underpinned by masterly virtual simulation work using computers. This is made possible by CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) virtual analyses which slash vehicle development times.