Science

Tesla: surprise, Cybertruck has very good aerodynamics

The Tesla Cybertruck is said to have an excellent drag coefficient compared to other vehicles in its class. Enough to silence some detractors.

The Tesla pickup truck, sometimes decried and even ridiculed for its design, could well silence some detractors. Indeed, in addition to the atypical lines and a very sharp look, the Cybertruck is reproached for not optimizing the aerodynamic aspect. However, for an electric car, even more than for a thermal one, work on the drag coefficient, i.e. wind resistance, is important to increase autonomy. With its massive volume and angular edges, Elon Musk’s pickup is a priori not an ideal candidate in terms of aerodynamics. But now that the Cybertruck project is complete, German vehicle physics company Numeric Systems wanted to test the aerodynamic capabilities of the beast.

Surprise: they are pretty good, even very good. Indeed, in the context of a traditional pick-up, the drag coefficient or Cx ranges between 0.55 and 0.65. For Numeric Systems, which ran CFD (computational fluid dynamics) tests on a 3D model of the Cybertruck, the Tesla pickup would score 0.39. Alex Lázaro Prat, CFD engineer responsible for the study, explains that “contrary to what many people think, the protruding edge of the roof doesn’t cause a lot of liftoff.” The person in charge of the project at Numeric Systems goes even further: “It is true that the flow is not tied, but the air moves quite smoothly down the slope. This is quite remarkable and is a great advantage over other pickups. In addition, the diffuser has a clean effect in the center of the rear of the car. This creates suction and reduces aerodynamic drag. »

Cx can still be improved

What importance should be given to this independent test? On the one hand, it should be remembered that it was not carried out on a real Cybertruck, but on a computer. However, wind tunnel tests may give somewhat different results. In any case, since the margin of error between the two methods is quite small, the pickup truck’s aerodynamic conclusions cannot be disputed. On the other hand, another question may arise: can the Cx Cybertruck be improved? After all, significant improvements before the start of production could still change the situation. On this occasion, Alex Lazaro Prat has a few recommendations as he was able to target the Cybertruck’s weak spot: its front end. “Our results show distinct turbulent structures created by the front of the car that connects the bumper and hood, the vertical lip behind the headlights, the wheel arches, the style of the rims, and the geometry of the A-pillars and C-pillars. the formation of turbulent structures comes from the sharpness of the edges. These geometric features increase the vehicle’s drag, which reduces the range of the Cybertruck. Also, given the sharp backside, the flow instantly breaks off and creates a low energy zone that is visible behind the top and side edges,” he explains.

Be that as it may, the Cybertruck’s aerodynamic results are much better than those attributed to it based on several images. However, the pickup does not achieve the result that Elon Musk had hoped for. Indeed, the Tesla boss has set a Cx target for the Cybertruck at 0.30. Certainly a bit ambitious.

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