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Dome Ecol Project
by IKE 14-Dec-2009 00:31

Dome is one of the most established motorsport related companies in Japan with a long heritage in Japanese and international motorsport. However this post is not competition related but it is a project about improving the fuel efficiency of an already efficient car (Honda Insight) by using advanced aerodynamics and composite materials.

Dome used prepreg CFRP to replace the steel door skins, fenders and roof and also the bumpers. One of the key areas of the project are the CFRP wheels which save about half the weight of the original aluminum ones.---

In order to improve tha aerodynamic efficiency the floor is almost flat. Although the replacement parts save about 45kg in total the flat CFRP floorpan weighs about 24kg so the final weight reduction of the car is about 20kg.

All the aero modifications, like the golf-ball like vortex generator hubcaps reduce the drag by 14% and the downforce is up by 11% on the front axle and by 120% (!) on the rear.

The complete project should be very expensive to pay for its cost over the years even with its considerable efficiency improvement (about -10% in fuel consumption, depending the traveling speed). However some parts may reach the market (maybe as cheaper versions, from ABS for example) and the study as a whole is useful by showing the possible improvements that aero studies and composite materials fabrication can yield.

(official link)
http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/ (article with photos of the final prototype)

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