Aerodynamics and Efficiency Through the Air – Honda Insight, Toyota Prius, and Chevy Volt

General Motors (GM) finally released wind tunnel test results for its highly anticipated Chevy Volt. A wind tunnel is used to test the coefficient of drag. Learn how aerodynamics works from HowStuffWorks.com.

The GM wind tunnel yielded the following results:
Honda Insight = 0.32
Toyota Prius = 0.30
Chevy Volt = 0.28

Chevy Volt's Coefficient of Drag
Chevy Volt's Coefficient of Drag

The lower the drag coefficient the better. The lower the number the more aerodynamic the vehicle is cutting through the air which helps in increasing fuel economy.

GM engineers concede that Toyota achieved 0.25 for the Prius on their wind tunnel, but as they point out “its really all relative to what tunnel it was tested on”. See GM’s statement.

Just for fun, check out this Wikipedia article listing the coefficient of drag for many vehicles. A 2003 Hummer H2 had a rating of 0.57, whereas a 1996 GM EV1 0.195.

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Auto Upkeep 4th Edition

Michael Gray

Mike has roots in the automotive service industry. He began diagnosing and fixing cars at a young age in his family’s service station. He has worked in automotive parts supply stores, towing companies, and service facilities. After graduating from St. Cloud State University (MN) with a Bachelor’s degree, he implemented and taught a basic car care program at the high school level. During work on his Master’s degree at Illinois State University (IL), he was a curriculum specialist on a National Science Foundation project where he co-authored ten integrated mathematics, science, and technology books designed for team teaching. Mike has also supervised teachers in Career and Technology Education as a school system administrator.

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