BYD has yet to reveal the full scope of its new electric sedan, which it is calling the U6, but it has teased details pointing to a reduced drag, which beats even Tesla’s Model S Plaid and the Lucid Air.
The Tesla Model S Plaid currently has a drag coefficient value of 0.208, and the Lucid Air has a value of 0.21. According to BYD, the U6’s drag coefficient is as low as 0.195.
Restricting a vehicle’s drag is key to its aerodynamics. Drag refers to the amount of resistance an object faces as it moves through the air. The less resistance there is, the more easily the object can propel itself forward at high speeds.
Some ways manufacturers can reduce their vehicle’s drag are smoothing the exterior and covering any holes that might affect the air’s movement around the car.
In the U6’s case, images released by the EU’s patent office indicate that BYD has crafted a sleek, rounded shape optimized with retractable door handles, wheel covers, and an active rear spoiler to increase its aerodynamics.
Aerodynamic design is an increasingly key focus for EV manufacturers as part of a bigger drive to improve EV batteries’ efficiency.
A car with more drag will have to work harder to push through the air, which requires more power and drains its electric battery more quickly. But the more streamlined a vehicle’s design is, the further it can travel on a single battery charge.
For instance, by reducing the drag coefficient from 0.32 to 0.24, Tesla may have increased the Model 3’s driving range by approximately 50 miles, according to an estimate by Exa’s vice president of Ground Transportation Applications, Ales Alajbegovic.
That means car owners can spend less time charging their vehicles and more time on the road.
In an interview with Autocar, former Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson affirmed the industry’s concentration on aerodynamic design.
“We should start thinking [about] new body shapes; it’s not just sedans, wagons, and SUVs,” he said. “Electrification will also change the shape of cars. They need to be more aerodynamic.”
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