International Journal of Automotive Technology

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 763–777 | Cite as

Effects of Wheel Configuration on the Flow Field and the Drag Coefficient of a Passenger Vehicle

  • Michael Donald Peter BolzonEmail author
  • Simone Sebben
  • Alexander Broniewicz


The effects of wheel rotation, rim coverage area, fan spokes, spoke sharpness, and tread pattern on the flow field and drag coefficient of a passenger vehicle were investigated. Force measurements and wake surveys were taken on a 1/5th scale passenger vehicle at a Reynolds number of 2.0 × 106. The wake surveys were conducted at three planes. Vorticity, total pressure coefficient, and local drag coefficient plots are presented. Wheel rotation reduced the drag coefficient of all of the wheel configurations tested, which generally agrees with literature. Wheel rotation reduced the front wheel’s jetting vortex’s drag while increasing the drag from the center of the front wheel to the upper rim track. Reducing the rim coverage area increased the drag coefficient. This increase was attributed to an increased jetting vortex drag and a change in flow separation around the front wheel. The fan spoke rim performed the worst, regardless of rotation. Rounding the spoke edges reduced the drag coefficient of a rotating wheel. The tread pattern slightly reduced the shoulder vortex vorticity and slightly increased the separation around the front wheel.

Key words

Rotating wheels Rim aerodynamics Wake surveying Jetting vortex 



velocity in x-direction, m/s


velocity in y-direction, m/s


velocity in z-direction, m/s






local drag coefficient


total pressure coefficient


static pressure, pa


resultant velocity, m/s


freestream velocity, m/s


density, kg/m3


vorticity, l/s


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This work is funded by FFI (Fordonsstrategisk Forskning och Innovation, Strategic Vehicle Research and Innovation) through Energymyndigheten (Swedish Energy Agency). The authors greatly appreciate their support. The authors would like to acknowledge Volvo Cars for providing the test vehicle, access to the wind tunnel facilities, and equipment.


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Copyright information

© KSAE 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Donald Peter Bolzon
    • 1
    Email author
  • Simone Sebben
    • 1
  • Alexander Broniewicz
    • 2
  1. 1.Vehicle Engineering and Autonomous SystemsChalmers University of TechnologyGothenburgSweden
  2. 2.Environment & Fluid Dynamics Center, Volvo CarsVolvo Jakobs VägSweden

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