Posted on August 18, 2016
Controlling the flow of air is important to any vehicle - and this was known at least as far back as 1933, when automotive enthusiast Harry Stevinson fabricated a custom body for his boxy Ford Model T to improve its fuel economy.
Although driving a moon buggy would probably be fun, atmospheric resistance is a fact of life for Earth-based drivers like us. Simply put, an engine doesn't just have to work to move the mass of a vehicle - it also needs to perform extra work to push through the air. What a drag, eh?
Cars designed for performance or actual racing often have spoilers, devices that alter a car's aerodynamic profile to increase traction at certain speeds. And it should go without saying that air is critical to a vehicle's performance beyond keeping drivers conscious - first, oxygen is a critical part of fuel combustion (thus the presence of air intakes on some high-performance vehicles), and secondly, ventilation is necessary to keep engines cool. Although you should always keep an eye on your water levels, coolant can't do it all on its own!
So even though the grille of a car is a huge part of its visual appeal, its functional role is allowing air to run over the radiator grille right behind it.
Seems like a pretty fair tradeoff - although grilles naturally increase drag by increasing the surface area that air collides with, they also keep the car running at all. And for a good century, that was a compromise every manufacturer was willing to make.
But for some manufacturers - including Chrysler, with the 2016 Chrysler 200 - that's changing.
Partially inspired by the aerospace industry's use of so-called thrust vectoring technology, in which computer-mediated changes to the surface of a wing and the direction of jet exhaust allow naturally non-aerodynamic craft like the F-22 and B-2 to stay in the air, active aerodynamics in the form of active grille shutters are an increasingly popular method of increasing fuel efficiency while keeping the engine ventilated and cool.
While high-end manufacturers like Bugatti and Porsche have built cars with multiple dynamic surfaces (even auto-lowering suspension), most modern active aero is focused on the grille. Ford, Chevrolet, Mazda, Ram, Toyota, and now Chrysler are in on the action, and adoption of the feature shows no signs of slowing down.
The concept is as simple as the benefits are clear. The Chrysler 200 monitors engine temperature and decides whether or not to close the grille shutters. While it's closed, you'll enjoy greater fuel economy, as well as quicker warm-up on the coldest days. When the engine needs a blast of air, the shutters open. It's that simple!
Extra fuel efficiency is a benefit in any economy - so why not get the absolute most out of every drop of fuel? Active aero is definitely becoming the norm, so come into Coquitlam Chrysler to see the Chrysler 200's active aero technology in action!