DIY: Clear Aero Covers For A Tesla

DEC 27 2017 BY DOMENICK YONEY 49

Beautiful things can happen when you take matters into your own hands

A high percentage of sighted people agree: wheel covers from Tesla designed to increase efficiency and range are rather ugly. If the writings of many expectant Tesla Model 3 owners are to be believed, a lot of them plan on removing the aerodynamic covers that come standard with that car — the wheels hiding beneath these covers are actually pretty nice — and put them aside for use on long distance trips only, preferring to take the efficiency hit in their day-to-day driving.

DIY aero wheel cover

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. As a Canadian Model S owner discovered, with a little elbow grease and cash, you can have a solution that is both aerodynamic and as attractive as the wheels you prefer to shoe your car with. Maybe even more so.

You can read the long version of how he approached and solved this problem over at the Tesla Motors Club, but the short version goes like this. Basically, he had a 3D print shop scan his wheel and model a bracket, then had it produced in aluminum at a CNC place. He then cut discs from a sheet of  polycarbonate sized to fit his 21-inch wheels. The final piece of the puzzle was a smaller disc “retention plate” in which he cut the letters “EV,” which helped secure the polycarbonate and keep it from cracking at speed.

It ended up costing about CDN $1,325 ($1,044) and he seems quite pleased with the end product. He says it can collect some brake dust, but it can be easily cleaned without removing the wheel. Besides looking pretty snazzy, it also improved efficiency.

After completing his project, evogreen  — the name he uses on the TMC forum — made a series of runs, carefully measuring the energy-saving improvement. The difference was marked, and ranged from 4,21 percent to 9.24 percent, depending on speed, wind direction and other factors.

Though he only made a single set for himself, we can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a market for a similar product out there. $1,000 might be a little expensive for a lot of folks, but perhaps if built in volume, unit prices could be lowered significantly.

Source: Tesla Motors Club

Categories: Tesla

Tags:

Leave a Reply

49 Comments on "DIY: Clear Aero Covers For A Tesla"

newest oldest most voted
(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Why do they have to put “EV” on it????

This isn’t as sexy as the OEM covers……..lol
😛

Hauer

Sorry, butt anybody whu puts this on his car loses the right to call anything ugly again.
?

Hauer

I take back one t, and change u to o.

Lausbub

Yes, and doesn’t care about brake cooling either.

Paul Smith

Bake cooling? In a car that primarily uses regen?

Paul Smith

Here’s my missing ‘r’.

turboro

So in average 6% range gain, means 15 – 18 miles more range, that isn’t bad, but the design is, but hey who knows what comes next

fotomoto

Let’s continue on….

Figure a realistic 4 miles/kWh efficiency, those 18 miles extra save about 55 cents (nat. avg. 12 cents/kWh).

At $1,000 costs, one needs to fully charge over 1,800 times, nearly 500,000 miles, to break even.

But some folks spend that much or more just to add level II charging at home, so it’s all relative…..

koz

Most people put a value to their time. 15 miles can make a big difference when traveling on Superchargers, at least today. In another year when there are a bunch more Supercharger locations it may not matter as much.

fotomoto

Yup, I sure do value my time. That’s why for long range driving I won’t own a BEV until things drastically improve on several fronts: range, charge time (10 min or less), and, most importantly, costs.

Unplugged

What’s it like to value your time over the environment? Is it even mildly satisfying? Your time must be worth at least 4 or 5 tons of carbon.

Chacama

+1 to both your comments. Driving electric for the sake of driving electric is just stupid if you are into the green wave. Efficiency, practicality and mostly overall cost, should all be well balanced if we want EVs to reach out to the masses.

John E Ford

Also it will take him about 20 years to get ROI

Mark.ca

It’s a car, not a mutual fund…nothing you put ob it has a roi.

Chacama

Yes it can: rent it, use it as a taxi or wait until (hopefully) they release full autonomous driving and put it to work by itself a-la Uber.

Ziv

If he could shrink the size of the retention plate and decrease the expense, he could probably sell quite a few of these. 6% increase in AER is a decent mod. Especially since it is probably highest when you are driving at speed which is when you need longer range the most.

Mark.ca

I just don’t buy that 6% number….it seems very high.

Dr. Strange

Yes, I don’t believe those numbers, either. I’d like to review his testing methodology.

ziv

There was a car guy of sorts that got about 14% more range with wheel covers in an article here on Insideevs. But his testing method was kind of dodgey. Nah, really dodgey.
I think 6% may be doable at higher speeds. Doubt you will see much improvement at speeds under 40 mph though.

Pushmi-Pullyu

I just don’t buy that 6% number….it seems very high.”

Tesla claims ~10-11% for the OEM wheel covers. That also seems surprisingly high. But if it’s true, then 6% additional range for these custom covers certainly could be possible.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Maybe it’s just me but doesn’t the cover (I see it solid) prevent air flow through the brake calipers?

scott franco

Agreed. I would check with Tesla before blocking off the airflow to the disc brakes completely. There is a reason why most of them are exposed now. They get hot, and also you don’t want to encourage moisture to stick around in there.

IIRC, the Tesla design still lets air through.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Right, the OEM wheel covers for the TM3 have vents in them.

So this guy managed to spend over $1000 for some custom wheel covers that aren’t especially nice looking, don’t function well in that they are not ventilated, and they don’t even have the Tesla “T” logo on them!

Maybe this doesn’t quite deserve a facepalm, but neither is it anything to be proud of. I’m sure someone will do better, and do it significantly cheaper.

God/Bacardi

Fun project I guess but the cost…19″ Tesla rims, not impossible to find an used set for $500 USD on ebay and the aftermarket has rim sets that will fit for under $800 shipped…

Vexar

Leave off this guy. Clearly, he can get the price down by manufacturing instead of prototyping. $500 seems like a better price point. $600 with custom artwork on the center.

Ben

Teslas Aero-wheels reduce airflow through the brakes by 50%. These reduce it to nearly zero. Breaks will get too hot.

The transparent part will get scratches in no time and will look really bad afterwards.

How do you clean it, without detaching it? In no time at all a lot of break dust and dirt from the street will accumulate at the inside.

The small rubber spots he used (i think they are used in kitchen furniture) to stop the plate vibrating against the wheels are not good enough for the job and will get lost over time.

It seems the tire valve got blocked.

Ok manufacturing, but bad engineering.

Nick

Why are you using the brakes? This is an EV!

CarGuy

Drag racing! It is a tesla! I would be concerned about brake cooling also.

Ben

I think engineering should not be like: “works in 99% of cases, and in 1% of cases, you’ll get into big big trouble”. Do not mess with your brakes!

Teslas regenerative breaking is not the strongest and when you ride it hard on an alpine road up and of course down or on a track you will need your brakes a lot, but i forgot that some only brag about acceleration, but then only use their car to reach the next McDonalds.

Nick

Don’t optimize for a pathology.

If you’re going to be driving hard without regen, don’t add the covers which impact that one use case. Easy!

Navin Pillai

That’s Ugly AF.

Bryan

Have any of you guys heard the word test mule? These aren’t production units. They are for testing. We have been listening to various forums about the Aero covers on the Model 3 for months now and were they worth 10% or not. If not how much? 10% total or 10% over something else. These show that best case you do get about 10% overall improvement in AER. On average 6%. What this tells I will be getting the Aero covers and leaving them on. I have seen them with different colors and all in person. They aren’t that bad in person and for another 6 to 10% range, I’ll take it.

Chacama

Exactly! And best of all: we won’t innecesarily spent one extra buck for them!

Pushmi-Pullyu

“Have any of you guys heard the word test mule? These aren’t production units. They are for testing.”

No, they are for a guy who wanted better looking wheel covers and was willing to go to ridiculous lengths, and pay a ridiculous amount of money, to get them.

Don’t confuse a comment in the article which is pure speculation, with fact. There’s no indication he plans to produce multiple copies of these.

Nix

I think I would rather put the money into $1,000 dollars of solar panels, and solve this on the supply side instead of the demand side.

Increase the supply of free electricity, instead of reducing the demand in electricity.

Or buy a Model 3 with Aero covers and really save.

M Hovis

+1

Mark.ca

+1
Much more effective and actually has a roi.

Batarnak

Disagree.

Though home solar panels are great, if you’re travelling, you want to increase range. You don’t get to bring your panels with you… 🙂

If you compare it with Recycling, you can also state 3 R’s :

Reduce, Reuse, Refill (in that order!).

Reduce : consumption. The drain on the batteries to gain range which is exactly what this owner is attempting;

Reuse : every electron you can! Use regen whenever possible, pipe A/C to motor, brakes if possible, when needed.

Refill : when needed.

If you decrease consumption, you’ll need less supply…

Cheers!

Chacama

Then, to reduce consumption for that one 500 miles drive you take twice a year, just put the OEM caps and increase range by 10%…

Pushmi-Pullyu

“Though home solar panels are great, if you’re travelling, you want to increase range.”

Then just use the (ugly) aero covers which come with the car, at no extra expense… just like Nix suggested.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Wow, how could anyone manage to spend over $1000 on some custom polycarbonate wheel covers? 😯 I guess the 3D scanning company and the aluminum fabricator saw this guy coming!

And if he was gonna put a custom logo on the hub, then why the heck didn’t he use the Tesla “T”?

I’m sure there is an aftermarket for replacement TM3 wheel covers. I’m also sure that most TM3 buyers are not gonna spend $1000 for them!

EVShopper

For that much $$$ you could make a really sweet set of carbon fiber or carbon-Kevlar wheel covers.

Pushmi-Pullyu

And hopefully, ones which (1) retain more of the OEM wheel covers’ drag reduction and (2) are ventilated for brake cooling.

Not to mention that a carbon fiber material likely won’t show scratches and dirt nearly as bad as these custom covers!

Eric Huang

I felt the basic design could be further refined and improved. If the whole thing can be mass produced using some injection molding method the cost should be comparable to a set of plastic hub caps for $10. Transparent hub caps, pretty creative.

Batarnak

Some of you guys are funny. Harping on about ROI… it’s a car, guys, and maybe a 100K$ car at that. ROI? Really? Who buys a Model S with ROI in mind? Seriously.

You don’t like the EV logo? Hey, you can print your name on yours.

Braking? Most of the added range will be at highway speeds. Regen for slight speed adjustments, and brakes rarely used. It’s not like the brakes are sealed in.

It’s a prototype (which explains the high cost), and as such can be improved for air circulation, etc.

The guy tried something, and gained close to 10% range. Cut him some slack.

Djoni

Agree entirely.
Some folk here are just hoping the complaining bandwagon for no reason.
I thought of doing this wheel cover myself on my Leaf, but didn’t take the time and lack the will of this guy.
I also shut the small low grill to improve cabin heating.
It’s – 25 c° where I stand now, I don’t thing anything will ever overheat on any car.

Most around here seems to live in the eternal sunstate, but the world is much more diverse.

BTW Batarnak sound like a common swear around here. Could it be?

Pushmi-Pullyu

“Some folk here are just hoping the complaining bandwagon for no reason.”

Hopping ≠ hoping!

Let me list the reasons:

1. Ridiculous price just for some polycarbonate discs and aluminum brackets

2. No vents for brake cooling

3. Only about 60% of the original drag reduction achieved

4. Clear polycarbonate will accumulate scratches and, before long, look ugly

5. Missed the opportunity to put the “T” Tesla logo on the hub

Overall, as an attempt to improve on the original ugly aero wheel covers, it’s pretty much a complete failure. I’m confident that someone will do much better for far less money.

Mark C

He put a lot of effort and $$$ into these, built them the way he wanted them to look on his S, shared how he did it and then did the on-the-road testing so he could provide an approximate efficiency improvement.

I say KUDO’s to Domenick and thanks for confirming a noticeable increase in range going from those stylish wheels to an aero cover! From a little ways off, they don’t scream “aero cover” and many people won’t notice them.

KenB

Sorry but this is not worth over $1K USD – just leave the wheels as is and get another set of rims/tires for winter climates if needed. Waste of money in my mind.