Active aerodynamics give performance the chequered flag

29th December 2014
Barney Scott

A Midlands manufacturing firm has unveiled two innovations that have the potential to change the way performance cars, and eventually volume vehicles, are manufactured and perform. MarchantCain Design has launched two innovations built around active aerodynamics, which aim to improve vehicle performance and increase fuel efficiency.

The company used the international Advanced Engineering Show to demonstrate a concept active aerodynamic system and an active diffuser system. The projects have been in research and development at the company’s Coventry premises, and MarchantCain say they are already attracting the attention of a number of niche automotive OEMs.

MarchantCain will demonstrate the designs again at the forthcoming Autosport International Show, 9th January, Birmingham NEC, during a workshop in conjunction with the Motorsport Industry Association.

The company’s concept active aerodynamic system controls downforce on supercars and allows a vehicle to modify aerodynamic forces to maintain optimum performance levels. The system is electronically actuated, which makes it lighter and faster than hydraulic systems, enabling vehicle manufacturers to meet lower emissions obligations.

The recently-released products have already caught the attention of German vehicle manufacturer Porsche, who included MarchantCain's underbody diffusers with the 918 Spyder (video). Active aerodynamics have the advantage of being able to be driver-deployed for driving at various speeds and conditions; to achieve minimum drag for lower fuel consumption; to balance drag for downforce and high driving stability at speed, and to produce maximum downforce for best performance.

Rob Marchant, Managing Director, MarchantCain, expects these technologies to eventually cross into mainstream mass production vehicles, as cars become lighter for fuel efficiency and smaller engines continue to produce enhanced performance: “There is now a drive to reduce the weight of vehicles while maintaining their overall functionality and performance. By deploying active aerodynamics, a vehicle can effectively add mass when it is required, while remaining lightweight and fuel efficient during normal operation,” explained Marchant. “Active aerodynamics has been used in automotive design for many years when managing downforce and drag, but we are taking this technology further for niche vehicles and developing solutions that can be incorporated into mass produced vehicles; designing, prototyping and manufacturing our solutions from scratch.

“We are already seeing cars manufactured bigger and heavier than before, and vehicle manufacturers are being challenged with making these fuel efficient and aerodynamic. Active aerodynamics enable a vehicle to effectively add mass when it is needed to enhance performance, without releasing too many harmful emissions. Mass reduction of cars is already underway - the Golf MK 6 was heavier than the MK7 in overall mass levels - and we believe that with the technologies we are bringing to the market, the future of vehicle manufacturing is high performance, streamlined, aerodynamic vehicles that are much kinder to the environment. We are also working on a number of other innovations which are likely to disrupt the norm and change future vehicle manufacturing for the better.”

MarchantCain Design will be further showcasing its innovations and commenting on the future of vehicle manufacturing at the forthcoming Autosport International Show at Birmingham NEC being held between January 8-11 2015. During the exhibition, Managing Director Rob Marchant will be hosting a workshop entitled ‘Thriving on Innovative Solutions.’

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