Tesla Model 3 To Dominate Drag Race (Drag Coefficient Of Less Than 0.20)


Drag Race

Drag Race


Tesla tends to kill all in a drag race. YouTube videos abound. Well, now it might dominate the other kind of drag race, as in drag coefficient. It’s a big factor in fuel economy and electric range.

But it’s unglamorous. Aerodynamics usually bores everyone except automotive engineers. Leave it to Tesla to make it an exciting topic among laymen and force other automakers to stop chickening out and start building super-slippery cars, even if the styling startles at first. Model 3 might do exactly that. If today’s rumors have a foot in reality:

  • Musk wants the 3 to slip under 0.20, besting the 0.24 of the S and X, and making it the slickest production car on earth. It would likely require a radical design, something normally relegated to an outlandish concept tucked behind the ropes at a car show.
  • The Model 3 will indeed have a “special design,” says another bit of hearsay.
Volkswagen XL1 Is World's Most Aerodynamic Production Car - Drag Coefficient Is 0.189

Volkswagen XL1 Is World’s Most Aerodynamic Production Car – Drag Coefficient Is 0.189

Don’t forget, Elon did say Model 3 won’t look like other cars. Seems we might be in for a shocker next spring. Those nutty concept cars that nobody actually builds, Tesla might build, despite TeslaMondo’s view that the fledgling EV market requires restraint and disallows crazy designs.

Winning this “drag race” would grant Tesla some mighty-impressive bragging rights during the 3 unveiling. Impressive to geeks, that is. But, you see, Tesla is making geeks of us all.

*Editor’s Note: This post appears on TeslaMondo. Check it (and other Tesla stories of interest) out here.

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151 Comments on "Tesla Model 3 To Dominate Drag Race (Drag Coefficient Of Less Than 0.20)"

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Tesla builds great cars, and Spacex may transform the cost structure of spaceflight, but Musk tends to overpromise and deliver a bit late.
So I doubt an interdependently tested III will get a 0.20 Cd, even if Musk announces it will. But I bet it will be “slick” and look good as well.

Musk always delivered what he promised, and the Model III will roll out on time.

Yes to the first, not likely to the second.

Musk delivers what he promises, and then some, but is always late, even to his events. The only way the Model III can be on time is for somebody other than him to drive the project. He’s simply to OCD. At the end of the day, if he has to choose between fixing a detail and making a date, the calendar will lose every time.

I’m not sure I agree. For a fledgling automaker like Tesla, you can’t afford to let high price vehicles go out with flaws. If he has to delay a vehicle’s launch to fix a problem, then it’s part of being a new automaker.

It’s also a question of finance; Tesla doesn’t have as much money to throw around as, say, Ford.

Eventually they’ll be established and practised enough that they’ll be able to deliver much smoother and punctual vehicle launches.

“For a fledgling automaker like Tesla, you can’t afford to let high price vehicles go out with flaws.”


But it is okay to charge customers an option with the promise that it will be finished after you purchase the car.

Or it is okay to “finish” the car later.

I guess if there are no flaws, then Tesla wouldn’t need all those SW updates for bug fixes… LOL.

Musk has over delivered….no one thought the Model S would be as good as it is. I didn’t until I test drove one. Immediately sold my Merc and bought one. No one thought about Tesla Power packs too. The one critique is “on time”. Well look at it this way, the other Car co. are never going mass produce a high end EV. They promise vaporware, but they have not ordered the massive amount of equipment or started building a factory or spending the billions necessary to build an EV model to compete with likes of the Model S.

mo said:

“No one thought about Tesla Power packs too.”

Actually, several li-ion battery makers were already offering stationary power packs, mostly for home solar power users, on their websites. Tesla was just the first to aggressively market its PowerWall, and the commercial/industrial scale PowerPack.

With aggressive pricing. With a factory to back that up.

“No one thought about Tesla Power packs too.”



Elon never over promises. Everything he says comes true or is better

Release dates?

Are you willing to place a bet on that? I knew you wouldn’t !

I agree that Elon does seem to have a bit of OCD around making everything perfect and that is why people ARE willing to put money down early and wait when the date slips (multiple times). He delivers amazing results that no one else in the industry can…or will. I want it as perfect as it can be because I am not rich and want to know that Tesla did its due diligence to make it a rewarding experience.

That said, PLEASE Elon, please do not use a closed-in rear wheel well design. I know that is a huge factor in aerodynamics but it is so ugly. So, so ugly, no matter how you dress it. If you do that, I will be so disappointed. And, though I have been waiting for this for years, I would very probably have to unhappily decline.

Tesla has succeeded – in large part – because its cars are VERY nice-looking.

Musk wisely chose to not follow the science-experiment path that so many other EV attempts have done over the decades. If the Model 3 looks weird, this could kill the company. Nobody cares a lot about the drag coefficient. Adding a bit more cost for batteries is much more appealing than a slightly cheaper, goofy-looking car with a 0.199 Cd

These super low drag concept ICE cars are so ugly because the drag is minimized by the design of the car’s rear.
This might be entirely different in case of an electric car. The missing ICE provides much more design flexibility for the nose. So I assume there are ways to achieve an extraordinary low drag with improved flow conditions at the front of the car avoiding such an awful rear. A new styling trend set by BEVs could be a further threat for ICE cars.

Be prepared to be disappointed because the law of physics are the same for all!
You cannot reach 0.20 only with a perfect front part of the car, simply ask the first aerodynamic engineer that you might encounter.
Just because it will have a “strange” rear doesn’t mean that it have to be ugly, but indeed the taste need to change 😉

For example, Mercedes has tried to show with the concept IAA that you can still design a car with really good aerodynamics and that is not necessarily considered ugly.

The law of physics will always remain.
But ICE en EV don’t have the same constraint.
Among many, here are some:
No need to expel any poisonous exhaust away from the occupant.
No need to exhaust the wasted heat of the engine by monster grill.
No need to exhaust the burned gas itself.
No need to put fire barrier all the way of the exhaust pipe, muffler, catalyses, turbo,RGR etc.
No need to insulate it from anything.
No need fresh air intake for the combustion.
No need to put the occupant air intake away of any gas fume or exhaust.
No need to put the motor and the transmission linkage in a conventional position.

I’d say it open up a lot of solution.

The Model S is an EV and reach “only” 0.24…
You can try hard to avoid the correct solution by tweaking here and there, but at one point, you reach the limit where tweaking is not enough and you are forced to design something the way the physics are asking you to do it.
There is indeed some tweaking possibilities left like remove wing mirrors etc but nowadays most cars have a quite well optimized front part and if you want more improvement, you have to radically change the design of the rear:
If you look at the actual drag winners like Mercedes CLA they all have a rather conventional looking front (by nowadays standard) but a somewhat streamlined rear.

Trains got all that stuff you mentioned but still beat Model S in Cd.

So are airplanes…

Most fast trains with low Cd’s are EV’s 🙂

Airplanes have long tapered noses and tails that would make cars too long.

Nothing about aero means it needs to look weird. Most cars, CUV’s are already close to a good aero shape just they won’t do the details to make it be aero. Things like trim, window edges, door gaps, wheelwells, roof racks need to be cleaned up or eliminated. The front other than rounded edges has little effect. It is from the widest point aft that matter which should be clean and a gentle inward curve then cut off in the back sharply. But most important is low CD with less frontal area and lower weight could take the 3’s drag down to 175wthrs/mile means it can go 200 US miles on 40kwhr and 300 miles with just 60kwhr. Not only that but because lower kwhr it can be S faster giving the 3 another big advantage. On a 300 mile range one it could get 200 mile range in just 15-20 minutes This would make the 3 even more competitive making it even harder to compete with forcing others to cut prices drastically. Luckily EV’s really don’t cost as much to build as battery prices have dropped so much they can cut costs by a lot to under similar gas… Read more »

Agreed, there are many details to get right to keep attached flow.

For example the headlights and the black trim in front of the windshield on the LEAF are vortex generators. Great for energizing the boundary layer and keeping flow attached (low noise, highway stability, and better drag than detached flow), but there is a drag penalty for adding them onto the design.

Or Tesla could go the route they did in X and start using active flow control, the spoiler in that example. I would rather see some sucking/blowing air to control the boundary layer.

I’m in. Give me aerodynamics.
The Honda Insight gets 55 mpg on New Jersey Highways. Aerodynamics are SCIENCE.

I’m an Engineer and I want passenrger space and comfort, not areodynamics! Who want to break their backs getting in and out of a low slung vehicle?

Welcome Tesla Mondo into the InsideEVs mix. Amazing articles with a unique sense of humor and a writing style that’s one of a kind!

I sincerely hope they don’t make it look like 2004+ Prius (aka, mini Pontiac Aztek). But there may not be many options when it comes to passive shape in drag coefficient.

Can the Model 3 achieve a .20 Cd without using cameras in place of side view mirrors?

Highly doubtful.

But maybe in two years, the laws will be changed to finally favor fuel effeciency and lower emissions, as the planet continues to heat up…

I hope the Model 3 doesn’t have to don wheel skirts to win the drag race. 😉

In the past, Elon mentioned MIII being different but not a “weirdmobile”.

What Elon thinks qualifies as weird vs what Joe Average on the street thinks– might be leagues apart. So, I would not rule out anything that will facilitate his Idealized Goals being reached: be it rear skirts, wheel pods, 3 wheels, or seamless body panels with no raised trim, etc.

Don’t like wheel skirts? Cessna’s use Wheel Pants – like the Aptera or Prowler…is that preferred?

Sorry, I have nothing against wheel skirts. After viewing the pic of the “drag race” in the article, I was just making a bad pun: needing a wheel skirt to win a “drag race.” 😀

I found it a good one! 🙂

Yeah, I got it. Thought it was good too.

Fixed wheel skirts are a massive liability anywhere in the world that has either snow or mud, or both.

They need to at least be removable.

And by removable, I don’t mean that they can come off, and the car looks ghetto, like it has parts missing.

I mean you can take the side skirts off and it still looks like a normal car.

Nix said:

“Fixed wheel skirts are a massive liability anywhere in the world that has either snow or mud, or both.”

Nope. I have a friend who owns a 2000 Honda Insight, and we live in the Greater Kansas City area. I assure you we get plenty of snow here in winter, and he never removes his wheel skirts.

Perhaps you have had a bad experience with that, but I suggest that was a result of poor engineering.

By snowfall he meant “snowfall” We can get your total annual snowfall in one dump.

I doubt you understand the impact frozen slush has on wheel to body interference. A snowfall in Kansas can be left on a highway I with salt and will melt away not even requiring a snowplough. Colder regions render the salt ineffective and it flash-freezes in the wheel wells and on the body of the vehicle building up until it becomes a brake against the tire. The only way to remove it is in a heated garage or steam gent.

Why not make them like doors opening vertically. You can access easily and it is simple and straight forward.



“I hope the Model 3 doesn’t have to don wheel skirts to win the drag race. 😉 ”

But seriously, I can’t imagine that it can achieve that high an efficiency without rear wheel skirts. The GM EV1 and the VW XL1 both have wheel skirts. Even the original (2002) version of the Honda Insight had wheel skirts:

While wheel skirts can help they are not the only way. Just look at the Insight’s front WW or just cut the body aero off just ahead of and outside the rear wheel, hiding it in the body’s shadow.
Also have a tight WW with rubber baffles on the bottom to keep air from being pumped by the spinning tire.
It is the air coming out sideways to the car from the WW from catching the airstream or tire/WW pumping, tire width that causes most of the drag.
Fix these and other details and .20cd can be done for 25% more high speed range including it’s smaller frontal area giving a better CDA, the real measure of car aero drag .

Love wheel skirts.
Form Follows Function.
Performance to stand above the crowd.

sven said:

“Can the Model 3 achieve a .20 Cd without using cameras in place of side view mirrors?”

My immediate thought, upon reading the article, was that the prototype may well come in at 0.20 drag coefficient, without side mirrors, that the production version with side mirrors would have a higher CD.

But it looks like I was wrong. According to various online sources, the GM EV1 achieved a drag coefficient of 0.19-0.195 for the production version. So it looks like 0.20 should be possible, even without going to the extreme of putting a pointed tail on it like the Aptera.


I doubt Tesla will sacrifice style for aerodynamics. But can we all revisit this article after the design is revealed in March? I doubt the Model 3 will look anything like the XL-1.

*thinking out loud*

If Tesla is trying to tease as much range out of a battery pack by dropping vehicle weight, go for a less traditional, cost-reduced design with impressive areodynamics…

These sorts of design issues have been researched by other groups in the past. A lot of the light-weighting, aero, cost-reduction, etc., was often done by eliminating one of the vehicles rear wheels. Hmmm…

Anyone remember the APTERA? Is there any reason(s) that would prohibit Tesla approaching Model III in a similar (but more successful) way?

It doesn’t have to loose a wheel to be narrower in back than in front, just a narrower track, like was done on the EV1. Other techniques are underbody aero work like Ferrari does.

I think you’d start to lose a lot of utility once you narrow the track. Plus, Tesla wants to make a CUV version of the Model 3, so the architecture will need to allow for that.

“thinking out loud”

You should read the source listed in the article. Pretty interesting actually. It is a concept that I had not heard of before.

instead of conventional radiators that bring air in the front of the car and create drag you use:

“a fanless heat sink”

pretty ingenious really. Just run the cooling tubes through or under the skin of the car at the nose and underbody.

“Anyone remember the APTERA? Is there any reason(s) that would prohibit Tesla approaching Model III in a similar (but more successful) way?”

Yes, there’s a reason; the reason is that cars with such extreme engineering don’t sell, at least not in the USA. The Aptera would have been a niche vehicle, just like all three-wheeled cars in this country. In fact, legally the Aptera was classed as a motorcycle, and didn’t require the same stringent safety tests that automobiles get in the USA.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop someone from designing a three-wheeled car which can pass all those crash tests and other safety tests, but nobody ever has. The Aptera’s cornering tests were facepalm embarrassing. Not only did the car skid sideways, one of the doors actually popped open!

I don’t accept the premise that just because something hasn’t been done by major automakers, does not mean it should never be tried.

Tesla already has a track record of accomplishing amazing things, by not following the lead of established motor companies. The recent global release of Autopilot 1.0, comes to mind…


Oh, and that door popping and steering stuff, was with Paul Wilbur’s Bloated Prototype, not the earlier versions the founders created.

Anon said: “I don’t accept the premise that just because something hasn’t been done by major automakers, does not mean it should never be tried.” Well, yes and no. Yes, EV builders should be encouraged to design and sell EVs that don’t look like gasmobiles, despite all the negative comments here at InsideEVs about the BMW i3. And no, it’s not possible for a three-wheeled car to sell well in the USA. You even need a different type of drivers’ license, because it’s classed as a motorcycle rather than an automobile. Even aside from that, the safety issue is one which is very important for American buyers. Many Americans say they wouldn’t even consider buying one of the microcars which are popular in Europe, because they’re considered less safe in the event of a collision. I think it’s entirely possible for Tesla to sell the Model ≡ if it looks a lot like the EV1; a highly streamlined car, but one with four wheels… and yes, even if it has wheel skirts. But a three-wheeled car, like the Aptera? Ain’t gonna happen. Tesla won’t design a car in such a manner that sales will be confined to a tiny niche… Read more »

You’d be more in the Dymaxion style, look it up, to get the size needed to do the S mission in a 3wheel EV.
Though one would get 500 mile range with the same payload, battery pack as an S.
Done right in composites with a 60kw pack could get a 450-500 mile range.
I’m seriously thinking about building one for an RV as still a MC in Fla.

remember Aptera? Yea, I remember how they went bankrupt and shut down.

Not the path for Tesla to follow.

That’s because the BOD replaced the founder with a guy from GM (Paul Wilbur), who single handedly destroyed the company by burning thru their cash, and appearing so slimey and out of touch, no one wanted to fund them anymore.

I remember the Aptera quite well, I actually got to ride in one at an NRG event in New Jersey. My main gripe was entry and exit. It had a very hi sill, and low head clearance. People were bumping their head all day long. When you started it up, the screen showed the Ubuntu boot screen (+1). Once you got seated, it was quite comfortable. The problem with a three wheeled car is you will find a way to hit every pothole on the road.

Gonna be a long February…


Pure speculation. Misleadng heading.

Miss the Aptera. Ground based airplane look 😀 Shame it didn’t work out. Could have been about the first production EV on the road if so (post EV1).

How is that going to change when I put snow tires on…

Daihatsu UFE II and UFE III concepts are there. No side-view mirrors, wheel skirts, and a very small frontal cross section. I doubt Tesla wants to make the 3 a kei-car size, though.

Nice looking. Cd of 0.19 and seats four.

This is clean and quite nice. Not super weird. And I think Tesla designers could make this a bit more aggressive looking.

BTW: Ford was experimenting with deforming front wheel covers that used a stretchy material that matched the vehicles paint color on an early Probe Prototype. Never made it to production. I assumed the flexible skin over the moving plastic wheel cover didn’t hold up well. Lots of rubbing, stretching & flexing.

Ambulator said:

“Nice looking. Cd of 0.19 and seats four.”

It’s a lot easier to achieve a Cd that low when it doesn’t have side mirrors. Tesla doesn’t have that luxury in a production car.

And when backseats have no head space making it effectively 2 person car with 2-3 small kid seats in the back. To avoid this you need to raise ceiling in front increasing drag area and effectively negating benefit of low drag coefficient.

No, I would not want a car that can’t seat 4 full height persons comfortably enough.

The Diahatsu UFE-III actually has a 0.168 Cd figure.


Or there was the old Solectria Sunrise with a reported Cd of around 0.17 http://www.evalbum.com/imgm.php?n=655a.jpg&w=300&h=225

I use to own a CF body/Chassis of it now being finished by Lee Hart as the Sunrise2.
They build a series of 10 or so and I vid the video of it’s crash testing it passed well in.
It did 377 mile range on NiMH batteries and would hit 550-600 miles on lithium.
It also did Boston to NYC on I-95 with 3 people on 1 charge with 50 mile range left.
So it can be done especially in composites done right while costing less.

Mercedes Bionic concept (based on the boxfish) also had a Cd below 2.0. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_Bionic

I remember Musk sayin he had the choice of going mainstream or radical for Model 3. He said he chose the latter, so i expect something radical to a certain point. It has to be compelling as Teslas are. GM’s EV1 had a drag of .19.

I’m pretty sure Tesla can make an atractive car with a comparable DC to the EV1 without being so ugly.

Drag coefficient is meaningless without telling drag area.

Tesla is in a very tough, and different position with the Model III. They will be in direct competition with the OEMs, for the first time, in the mass market. Nobody will be surprised by a Sonic sized Bolt. But a Tesla that is not big, fast, and showy would be a tough sell.

Unfortunately, Americans hate small, efficient cars. The dismal sales of the old Honda Insight, and current Prius C show what an uphill battle it would be.

Elon is pretty good at finding a gimmick, like the Falcon doors. Maybe he can find a way to get us to eat our broccoli, but I doubt it.

I, for one, would put off a Bolt purchase, to get a car that looks like the VW XLI. But I ride an electric assist bicycle, and am in a distinct minority.

Tesla already have a unique selling point: the superchargers! Even if you’ll have to pay per use in the model 3 having such a well built-out network is a huge advantage!

If you have to pay for Supercharging, and Elon says he would gladly have other companies use it, it is only an advantage if the other companies want to shot themselves in the foot.

Go with the sliding doors of the Peugeot 1007 and the lines will go around the block.

Warren said:

“Unfortunately, Americans hate small, efficient cars.”

The old Honda Insight is a cramped two-seater with rather limited luggage space. And the suspension sucks; it has a very bumpy ride. I speak from experience here.

That kind of car simply isn’t going to appeal to most Americans, regardless of how good or bad its other qualities are. Most Americans want a car with a back seat, even if it’s rarely used.

Broccoli with salmon and rice along with a cream sauce is actually my favorite dish, but there could be surprising solutions like fast flapping side mirrors commanded by a driver’s sight point recognition software. Most of the time they are closed and don’t give drag, but when you watch in their direction the software notice that and immediately flaps it open and you never noticed it wasn’t there just before that. Of course at that moment there is drag but that is statistically cutting the global drag time.

A bit more suggested detail on yhe design elements to consider over at http://electrek.co/2015/11/17/sources-tesla-model-3-will-have-extreme-aerodynamic-design-details/

Is there a way to measure the CD of a moving car? Not in a wind tunnel. Perhaps non-protruding pressure sensors along the front of the car?


There is Cd, the effective coefficient of drag; then there is the more usefull CdA – which considers the actual area cross section of the vehicle. In reality, CdA & Rolling resistance are big elements affecting range and efficiency, along with weight.

Right. To milk the best range out of a battery pack, the car needs both a small frontal cross-section and a low drag coefficient. Tesla was remarkably successful in achieving both with the Model S; its frontal area is appreciably smaller than the Leaf’s, despite the Model S being a large, luxury-sized car.

Achieving a smaller cross-section with the Model ≡ won’t be a challenge; it’s a smaller car. Achieving an appreciably lower CD will be a challenge. I think we should expect rear wheel skirts.

I disagree, achieving a smaller cross section will be challenging. The Model 3 will clearly be shorter, but that does not help the cross section at all.

The Model S has modest head room (in the front), but is a pretty low vehicle. There isn’t a lot of room to lower the roof line. The 3 could be slightly narrower, with the taller cells they plan to use. Narrowing only makes less difference in frontal area than lowering the roofline.

The Model ≡ will almost certainly be a significantly narrower than the Model S. The Model S is known as an exceptionally wide car, even for a luxury car.

As I said: Achieving a smaller frontal area won’t be hard, and in fact it’s almost inevitable as it will be a smaller car.

Assuming you will agree that Tesla is intending the 3 to be larger than a Volt.

Here are the dimensions to compare:

Model S: 57″ high x 77″ wide = 4389 in^2
Volt: 56″ high x 71″ wide = 3976 in^2

So the Volt (a compact car) has 9.4% less frontal area and 72 kWh less battery. Granted has an ICE in it, but if you go compare against an i3 or LEAF it gets much worse.

I doubt Tesla can shave more than 5% off the frontal area, hence the need to make the improvement in Cd.


1. You can’t figure frontal area by multiplying maximum height by maximum width. With very few exceptions, cars are not precisely rectangular in cross section. For comparison purposes, the frontal area of the Model S is 25.2 sq. ft.

2. Comparisons with the Volt are probably pointless. Sure, the Volt has been criticized for only being able to seat 2.5 adults in the rear seat, instead of three. But that can be the result of a lot of things, including not efficiently utilizing what interior space it has.

3. You agree that the Model ≡ will have a slightly smaller cross section than the Model S, so we’re just arguing over the amount of reduction. You guess 5%; I guess 10%. Not really much of an argument there.

4. I already said that both cross section and Cd are important. So why are you repeating the point about Cd as though we disagree?

That is not correct. Model S has 25.2 square feet frontal area, and Leaf has only 24.5 square feet. Drag area (CdA) of Model S is lower.

My bad; I mis-remembered a remark in an article (link below) about “drag area”, whatever that means.

However, Nissan’s numbers are not to be trusted (same source linked below). Other sources report the Leaf’s frontal area at 24.8 sq. ft., which is still smaller than the Tesla Model S’s frontal area.


Is anyone able to calculate how many kwhrs of batteries is needed if a car has the same weight, but drag coefficient of 0.2 vs 0.25, to be able to hit 200 miles range?

As mentioned by Robert Weekley, Cd alone is not as important as CdA. You could have a draggier design, without fender skirts, etc., but it would need to be smaller to be as efficient.

With the same frontal area, and a higher drag coefficient, you would need more battery, pushing up weight and hence rolling resistance. But if you ignore rolling resistance, and run equally efficient drivetrains, it would increase power usage by about 25%.

That is also ignoring HVAC and Aux loads.

Equal driving pattern assumed you are right, but double the speed leads to 4 times the drag.

Honda’s laughable styling, lack of useful space and horrible driving experience (rear end went airborne crossing railroad tracks) drove me to purchase a 2001 Toyota Prius despite its homely appearance — the car I drive to this day.

2000 Honda Insight, that is. Low CD, poor everything else.


I’ve ridden in a 2000 Honda Insight several times on road trips, and even driven it a couple of times. You’re right to say it has horrible luggage space, but that was an early NiMH battery pack. Put a li-ion battery pack on the bottom of a similar car, and it will have lots more interior room. Who knows? Maybe even a rear seat! 😉

Rear end went airborne crossing railroad tracks? Well, certainly the 2000 Honda Insight has rather “firm” suspension… meaning a bumpy ride… but I think you’re exaggerating.

I have to defend our 2000 Honda Insight.

Styling is personal. You consider it laughable while I consider it cute and functional.

It has plenty of luggage space for us. We have driven our Insight 10,000 miles through Europe and 3,000 miles around Sweden and Norway on 3 long road trips. But we pack light while you might not.

I agree that its twist beam rear suspension isn’t up to Honda’s rear suspension standards. The rear suspension travel is so short that it bottoms out too easily.

But otherwise, it’s a 1,900 pound, aluminum and thermoplastic bodied, light and low-friction engined engineering marvel whose fuel efficiency still hasn’t been matched by a non-plug-in gasoline vehicle after all these years.

No wheel skirts PLEASE! Yuck.

I’ve put a lot of thought into this and I think the best thing to do is design optional wheel skirts. I realize that most people don’t like the aesthetics of them (I wish that would change). But hardcore efficiency fans love them.

So build a car that can have optional wheelskirts added to the car. Everyone gets what they want.

Wheel skirts are always “optional” in that you can simply remove them and leave them off when you drive.

Not, of course, optional in the way you mean. Correct me if I’m wrong, but nobody has ever put a car into production that way. One problem with doing so is that Tesla would have to submit two different series of tests for EPA ratings.

Frankly, I think the real problem with people thinking wheel skirts looking “ugly” is that the auto makers don’t go far enough. The VW XL1 has full coverage rear wheel skirts, and I think that looks just fine… see photo in article above.

I get massive snow boogers on my cars w/out skirts. I can only imagine what will happen with skirts.

Many ’50’s era American cars had optional fender skirts. Their design was such that with the fender skirts removed, the rear wheel wells looked normal and finished.

Ah . . . nice. Well, it appears that we need to go Back To The Future!

Maybe the skirts will deploy at speeds over 40mph. 🙂

Retractable wheel skirts!? That’s brilliant. Elon, are you reading?

Oh no! The drama oh the infamous articulated “Falcon Skirts”.



How about transparent skirts? That way you get the aerodynamics w/out the horrible looks.

(yeah, I’m sure they’d get filthy.)

Not so much about Fender Skirts, but about Snow & Melted Snow & Ice Caked in Wheel Wells – Front or Back: Could it be possible to design a sprayer system as part of the car that was like the nozzles of those hand car wash places, and sprayed the snow/salt right of of those wheel wells? use 3- 6 sprayers per corner for max coverage: Use the idea of a heated Windshield washer Fluid Spray in a separate tank!

Another Sprayer idea I had was to build one in the driveway – that as you drive over – it was a full under-body car sprayer and cleaned off all the snow/ice/salt junk before parking in the Garage! A Pre-Park Car Wash! 🙂

Needs to be easy to install and remove.

Robert Weekley said:

“Could it be possible to design a sprayer system as part of the car that was like the nozzles of those hand car wash places, and sprayed the snow/salt right of of those wheel wells?”

Electric defrosters mounted on the back side of the wheelwell lining (up inside the car) would be more practical way to prevent buildup of ice and snow, altho the energy used would be another hit to EV range in cold weather.

But I think the best way is simply to design the wheelwell aerodynamically so it doesn’t tend to accumulate ice and snow. Some cars do, but many don’t. But I don’t know what the design challenges are; it may be impossible to use aerodynamics to simultaneously minimize both drag and ice accumulation.

Idea for a bumper sticker.

“I love my grandkids. But not enough to put up with fender skirts.”

I, for one, welcome our new fender-skirt-wearing overlords.

I think it is sad and hilarious how conventional some folks here get… and just like so many other religious battles in the world… everyone has their special definition of what makes a car ‘wierd’ or ‘ugly’. For me function is what matters… I don’t mind wheel skirts if it gets me there for less…

My guess is that Tesla will innovate… either a one piece hood and fender front end assembly fully sealed with no through flow or something like that… maybe even some new ways of helping the front suspension resist less… maybe a classic roadster look with exposed front wheels and fenders rather than covering them under the front end… is this more aero than that… I dunno but it will sure be boring to hear all the whining if it doesn’t look enough like a freaking Impala or Taurus for some folks.

Yeah. It is enough to make my head explode. If you reduce Cd from .24 to .20, you can go from 60 kWh pack to 50 kWh pack, saving about 120 pounds, and reducing charge time and electricity use by at least 16.7%. It is a virtuous circle, a positive feedback loop.

Jeff Songster said:

“…it will sure be boring to hear all the whining if it doesn’t look enough like a freaking Impala or Taurus for some folks.”

Indeed, just as it’s annoying to read all the whining about the BMW i3’s bold design.

I imagine that circa 1900, people complained about having an engine at the front of the horseless carriage, and a steering wheel instead of a tiller. :-/

I hope Tesla is bold in its design. Innovators set trends, they don’t follow them!

As the owner of a 2000 Honda Insight (0.25 Cd) and 2014 BMW i3 BEV (0.29 Cd), I’m disappointed that BMW didn’t make the i3 more aerodynamic. However, I understand how difficult it is to make the Cd of a short, tall car like the i3 as low as the much less tall Honda Insight.

You do have to wonder why they made the i3 so tall. I drove my i-MiEV to an i3 driving event, and was surprised at how higher the floor was and how much taller the car was. Like my old i-MiEV, BMW may have chosen a tall car to disguise the narrow width.

Putting the battery pack in a flat layer under the floor mandates a higher roof line. I don’t know how much that contributed to the i3’s height, but surely it added at least a couple of inches? Maybe more?

The i-MiEV’s battery pack is under the floor as well, but it is actually 1.5″ taller than the i3.

you clearly dont care about your appearance….

Not related, but I guess the next Roadster will have 6 wheels.

I say seven. 2 wheels in the front for steering. 4 in the middle for 4-wheel drive. 1 in the back. because Aptera.

Off topic, but I want my next girlfriend to have 3 breasts. Two in the front, and one in the back for slow dancing.

Get yourself a morbidly obese girlfriend and make pretend back fat is a breast.

No wheels. Just balls.

At least it has the right number of them 🙂

Tesla continues to be the ONLY company that really knows what they are doing. OK, they do make some mistakes (they made that Model X too complex), but going hard on aerodynamics is extremely important. It is a way to boost the range and reduce battery costs for FREE.

So, yeah, make that car are damn aerodynamic as you possibly can without having aesthetics that alienate people.

I think OPTIONAL wheelskirts would be a good idea. If you hate them, then don’t get them. But if you want the most efficiency, they are there for you.

Interestingly, Tesla has their design team and their CFD team sitting together at the design center in LA. That would be really helpful in getting all the details right.

I looked at some openings they had several years ago.

I only want them optional if they’re removable.

To add: we get plenty of snow, but that’s only for part of the year, and not all the time even in winter. I’d want wheel skirts available for efficiency and range; they’d just need to be easy to remove.

Or, they could have defrosters in them that would melt ice and snow and keep them from getting clogged up.

Efficiency is always a good idea, but nothing is “free”. Better aero means less interior room (likely) and that leads to less utility. If Tesla goes all in for aero, then there will be compromises elsewhere. Would be easy to add wheel skirts as an option if they wanted to.

Anyone here has a clue if the Tesla 3 design will allow mounting a tow-bar?

As to Towing – it would be nice if the Model 3 – if even in it’s upper level models – had at least a 2,000 Lb towing Capability in it’s certification. Maybe a typical car’s 1,000 Lbs Towing for the Base Model would be OK as well!

It they delivered that – it would really freak out the EV Competition!! Especially – if the Base Car had under 50 kWh of Battery and over 200 miles range + Free Supercharger Access!!

As Model 3 is designed to compete with Audi A4 Quattro and BMW 328i xDrive, that are entry level executive cars, Model 3 most certainly can also tow. Model 3 Crossover in particular will have best in class towing capability.

Remember, that Tesla is not designing here hugely overpriced and zero effort compliance cars such as Nissan Leaf and Mercedes B Class, but a car that will take down gasoline cars fair and square.

Model 3 P90D with ludicrous speed will be quite a cool car! If it is 30 % lighter than S and can output 500 kW sustainable power like S and has significantly lower air drag. Then it should be in par with Porsche 918 Spyder when going around Nürburgring. Provided that there are proper race tyres under the skirt.

Porsche 918 Spyder has only 0.35 drag coefficient.

Tesla should develop autopilot controlled adaptive spoiler that goes completely flat when not needed, but provides maximum downforce and aerobraking in curves.

Tesla has already stated that more traditional materials would have to be used to save money. To me, that means steel instead of aluminum. I wouldn’t look for 30% weight savings over the Model S. Probably more like 10%.

If mass market appeal and sales at 500,000 per year is Tesla’s goal then pushing for this drag coefficient is a huge mistake. Why are they abandoning a winning formula? Create an ev with a long range that looks beautiful and has tons of acceleration. If Elon pushes too hard on the aero aspect he will end up with exactly what he said he didn’t want. A weird mobile.

Smaller frontal area and improved Cd create a virtuous feedback cycle, where the car can be smaller, so can use a smaller battery pack, which means lighter weight, which again allows a smaller battery pack…

A smaller battery pack means a lower price for both the (smaller) car body and the smaller battery pack, so Tesla can either drop the price or can afford to offer more “goodies” for the same price.

Bottom line: Improved drag and smaller frontal area in an EV means a more competitive price, and therefore better able to compete with gasmobiles.

Surely putting up with fender skirts is a small price to pay for that?

Wheel skirts, tapered rear…
On modern cars, these aero features tend to be used only on record cars, and are used so aggressively that they make the car ugly and impractical. But it doesn’t have to be that extreme.
You can have a moderate amount of these features to get some of the benefits without ruining the looks or the trunk space.

My favourite car design of all time : the Citroën DS had all of them and was a huge hit.

I know side view mirrors are currently required, and the option that almost all commentors mention is rear view cameras.

Odd, since another option would be to place the side view mirrors on the inside of the car on/near the A-pillar. This gives the reduced drag we are looking for, they wouldn’t require wiring for power assist or heating, so it’s lighter and cheaper than either rear cameras or traditional mirrors. Not as “techy” as rear view cameras, but not as likely to fail to function either. All you have to do is keep the side windows reasonably clean and defrosted.

Of course, now several hundred people are screaming at their monitors about how stupid I must be, but…the beat goes on. I’m okay with fender skirts, too.

The primary purpose of side mirrors is to be able to spot cars in the driver’s “blind spot”. How would mounting the mirror on the inside of the car let you see something in the direction with line-of-sight blocked by the car body? What you’re proposing is essentially to have three rear-view mirrors instead of just one.

Geometry mandates that side mirrors have to extend outward to the left and right of the car body.

Lots of talk of wheel skirts. What about the lack of side view mirrors on the VW XL1. Volkswagen went through the process of getting approvals in Germany. (And perhaps other parts of Europe. Not sure of the details). Would this be legal in the US?

I, for one, don’t think the Dodge ESX (Intrepid) concept car is all that ugly at all. Heck, it looks kinda like a current Cadillac from the back. My point is, nothing at all like a “weird-mobile”.

Anyhow, it had a reported 0.19 Cd. It’s not all that tough to imagine Tesla starting from something like this and improving on it, is it?


Fun to read back. Deserves a follow-up 🙂