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Spoiling gas guzzlers for the better

Minivans and sports utility vehicles can’t go extinct quickly enough, from a fuel efficiency standpoint. Still, if you’re saddled with one of these gas-guzzling dinosaurs but can’t afford a better car, don’t despair completely: a team of U.S. researchers has found a way to boost your fuel hog’s mileage.

Writing in the International Journal of Vehicle Design, researchers Inchul Kim,  Xin Geng and Hualei Chen report that a new spoiler design for so-called “bluff-back” vehicles can help reduce drag and lift significantly, thereby improving fuel efficiency.

For a minivan or SUV traveling at 108 kph, the spoiler cuts drag by 5 percent and eliminates lift completely, the team finds. The device, which could also be installed on buses, also improves a vehicle’s stability, the researchers say.

Whether it makes the typical minivan more attractive, though? Probably not. Still, anything that can help cut fuel consumption is a welcome addition.

Green Car Congress has more details about the spoiler design.

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