Magna's Active Aerodynamics Team: Harnessing the Wind
The wind tunnel allows engineers to quickly interpret findings and develop solutions for improving fuel economy and reducing CO2 emissions.
“In the past three years, we’ve tested seven Magna products, including an active front wheel deflector, an active rear diffuser and active underbody panels that are in development and ready to hit the market soon,” said Braendon Lindberg, Magna technical manager for the active aerodynamics team. “We’re developing new technology for the auto industry, helping our customers make the best choices – and working towards creating a more sustainable future.”
While computer simulations are valuable in the early stages of development, wind-tunnel testing provides data that drives performance – and results.
“No matter what product we’re bringing to market, it ends up in the wind tunnel to evaluate the real-world benefit,” said Ted Peterson, a Magna design engineer. “It allows us to go from concept to reality as we improve aerodynamics on every aspect of the vehicle, including SUVS, trucks and cars.”
NASCAR teams use the Windshear wind tunnel to improve vehicle performance and speed on the racetrack, while Magna engineers use it to “understand the benefit of our products on automakers’ vehicles,” said Dan Vander Sluis, Magna manager of exterior innovations.
He adds: “We’re getting into the science and details for the OEMs. They are intrigued by the possibilities and the competitive advantages.”
The wind tunnel is a source of inspiration, too, as the active aero team dreams up even more ideas to streamline vehicles. This includes “morphing surfaces” or body parts and panels that change shape and move dynamically to improve aerodynamics.
“Wind-tunnel testing enables us to harness this invisible energy to make vehicles that are faster and more efficient,” said Vander Sluis.