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Graduate courses

Departments' graduate courses for PhD-students.


Syllabus for

Academic year
MTF235 - Road vehicle aerodynamics
Syllabus adopted 2014-02-19 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPAUT
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Five, Four, Three, Not passed
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Automation and Mechatronics Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Shipping and Marine Technology, Industrial Design Engineering, Engineering Physics
Department: 42 - APPLIED MECHANICS

Teaching language: English
Open for exchange students
Block schedule: A
Maximum participants: 55

Course module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0199 Examination 7,5 c Grading: TH   7,5 c   16 Mar 2015 pm M,  15 Apr 2015 pm M,  21 Aug 2015 am M

In programs



Professor  Lennart Löfdahl

  Go to Course Homepage


In order to be eligible for a second cycle course the applicant needs to fulfil the general and specific entry requirements of the programme that owns the course. (If the second cycle course is owned by a first cycle programme, second cycle entry requirements apply.)
Exemption from the eligibility requirement: Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling these requirements.

Course specific prerequisites

BSc in Mechanical Engineering or Engineering Physics
Fluid Mechanics


Road vehicle aerodynamics provides a comprehensive introduction to the subject for students of engineering and design working in the automotive field. The course concentrate on illustrated explanations of the physical principles involved. Although the approach is largely non-mathematical, quantitative data are given, together with some basic formulae and examples of their use. Practical design implications are stated, illustrated by examples of current and historic vehicles.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

- understand why road vehicle aerodynamics is as important for commercial vehicles and passenger cars, as it is for race cars.
- be able to explain the fundamentals of fluid dynamics.
- describe the different criteria for achieving good aerodynamic design for commercial vehicles, passenger cars and race cars
- describe the general tools for working with road vehicle aerodynamics within industry.
- identify the strengths and limitations of these tools. 
- distinguish good aerodynamic designs from a bad one, by analyzing CFD and wind tunnel results.
- propose improvements to current designs on vehicles. 
- use CFD post-processing to evaluate the aerodynamic characteristics. 
- calculate the external and internal aerodynamic resistance for different vehicles and operating conditions.
- understand and be able to calculate the aerodynamic resistance and heat transfer rates due to the cooling airflow.
- communicate aerodynamics with correct terms.


A description of the basic mechanisms of lift and drag production on road vehicles is given together with the principles of drag reduction and the generation of downforce. Aerodynamic design aspects of the external and internal flows of passenger cars, commercial vehicles and racing cars are dealt with in detail. Unlike aircraft aerodynamics, the subject does not lend itself to traditional methods of mathematical analysis, but a short introduction to the application of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) techniques is included. A large part of the course is a project work carried out in groups of approximately 5 students. A racecar, a passenger car or a commercial vehicle is given to each group where the flow field around the vehicle should be analyzed and improved in different ways, depending on the specific given task. The project consists of a number of steps, starting with CFD post-processing of the given vehicle, wind tunnel analysis of the original vehicle and the improvements. This will result in a report and an oral presentation where the main focus is to evaluate the flow behavior.


The course comprises of approximately 20 lectures, several exercises, one cooling airflow assignment and a project work; including post-processing, flow visualisation and force measurements of a 1/5 scale model in the wind tunnel.


R. H. Barnard;
Road Vehicle Aerodynamic Design, Mechaero Publishing.
(ISBN 0954073479)
Complementing Material


- Project Work
- Assignments
- Exam

Page manager Published: Thu 04 Feb 2021.