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Syllabus for

Academic year
MTF236 - Road vehicle aerodynamics
Syllabus adopted 2019-02-20 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPAUT
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Pass with distinction (5), Pass with credit (4), Pass (3), Fail
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Automation and Mechatronics Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Shipping and Marine Technology, Industrial Design Engineering, Engineering Physics

Teaching language: English
Application code: 06120
Open for exchange students: Yes
Block schedule: A
Maximum participants: 55

Module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0118 Examination 5,0 c Grading: TH   5,0 c   15 Mar 2021 pm J,  09 Jun 2021 pm J,  20 Aug 2021 am J
0218 Project 2,5 c Grading: UG   2,5 c    

In programs



Simone Sebben

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General entry requirements for Master's level (second cycle)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Specific entry requirements

English 6 (or by other approved means with the equivalent proficiency level)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

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)

  • Explain why Vehicle Aerodynamics, through its coupling to energy efficiency, is important in the creation of a sustainable society.
  • Understand the coupling between the fundamental theories of Fluid Dynamics and Vehicle Aerodynamic applications. 
  • Explain the criteria/conditions for achieving good Aerodynamic design of passenger- and commercial vehicles. 
  • Recognize the strengths and limitations of the different tools used to optimize and evaluate Aerodynamic performance.
  • Be able to evaluate aerodynamic properties of a vehicle, by analysing wind tunnel and CFD results, as well as suggest improvements to an existing design.
  • Recognize implications of Aerodynamics on other vehicle attributes such as Thermal Management, Aeroacoustics, Contamination, and Climate Comfort.
  • Be able to communicate and discuss Vehicle Aerodynamics with professional vocabulary and nomenclature. 


The course discusses the fundamental mechanisms of drag and lift production on road vehicles. Aerodynamic design solutions and devices which influence and optimize the external flows around road vehicles are reviewed, discussed and analysed.
The course offers a short introduction to Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) with hand-on tasks using open source and commercial codes. A large part of the course involves a project work carried out in the Chalmers wind tunnel. Force measurement and visualizations are performed for the different configurations created to achieve specific goals. The results are used to enhance the understanding of the involved flow phenomena.
A hand-in task on Under-Hood Thermal Management and a session in the Chalmers driver simulator, Caster, are also included in the course.


In addition to the theory lectures, the course comprises two CFD workshops, wind tunnel experiments, a session in the Chalmers driver simulator, and problem-solving/consultation sessions. If possible, a visit to the Volvo Cars full-scale wind tunnel is included towards the end of the course.


  • R.H.Barnard, Road Vehicle Aerodynamic Design, Mechaero Publishing, (ISBN 0954073479)
  • W.H. Hucho, Aerodynamics of Road Vehicles ( )
  • S. Sebben & L. Löfdahl, Handbook on Fundamentals of Fluid Mechanics Applied to Road Vehicles
  • Lecture slides/notes

Examination including compulsory elements

  • Project Work
  • Assignments
  • Written Examination

Page manager Published: Mon 28 Nov 2016.