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Old 11-10-2014, 04:45 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Possible Thesis Project: Fuel Efficient Aftermarket Aero Kits: What do you think?

Hi everyone,

My name is Cody, I have followed this site for many years but never registered or was active on here. I am a huge Japanese car enthusiast and have always been into the aftermarket side of things, more for enthusiast/spirited driving, track racing and time attack racing. I have built and designed many body kit components for the Acura RSX.

Long story short I am in the middle of completing a graduate degree in Transportation design from the Art Center College of Design here in Pasadena California. I have to complete a thesis project, and while my heart would be set to build some badass time attack track car aero, I feel like that has been done so many times and I would like to find a new market.

So I am contemplating if doing a thesis on creating a line of universal and platform specific aero parts that would target people that circulate this site (eco modder enthusiasts) and or possibly attract some general non car enthusiasts as well with the design.

My biggest question is, could there be a market for this? I know about moon craft and other companies that have designed and manufactured (not diy) parts like these. But are they unwanted, too expensive, not functional enough or what?

Reference:




I have also experimented with alternative materials as well- I made a front bumper design, plug, negative mold and casted it using paper pulp years back:




and also recently I have done some surface modelling and 3d scanning in alias and have 5 axis milled some of my designs, similar to how the popular "Tra-Kyoto" "Rocket Bunny" Japan kits are made. My Fender in foam, right from the 5 axis:




Aside from the crazy designs, I enjoyed the process of alternative materials and also surface modelling.

If anyone has thoughts on this topic (hypermiling + Fuel Efficient Aero Parts) as a thesis project I would be interested to hear your thoughts

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Old 11-10-2014, 06:34 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'd say the market exists, but you've got to convince people the price of your kit will be recouped in fuel savings down the road.

And you'll have to convince people that the kits actually look good. This is the major hurdle. Sell people a $2k set of flashy chrome wheels that'll kill their fuel economy and will cost them many thousands more in higher-priced tires to fit their new rims... and they won't bat an eyelid. Sell them a fuel-economy improving body-kit that makes their car look like an Insight... and...
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Old 11-10-2014, 09:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi spray2020 - welcome to the forum.

I believe niky nailed it:

Quote:
you've got to convince people the price of your kit will be recouped in fuel savings down the road.
To that end, you may be better off focusing on the thirsty end of the market -- pickup trucks & SUV's -- whose owners may have more money to spend, and where the cost of any mods will be recovered faster than in more traditional economy cars.

Ironically, while hybrid owners may have money to spend, the ROI on ecomodding an already efficient car is very long.

Thus we see a lot of DIY coroplast & duct tape mods around here.

Also: as a commercial vendor, you'd need to be able to demonstrate that the mods work, to avoid getting the snake oil label. Documentation that shows controlled coast-down testing or wind tunnel time would be a must.
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Old 11-10-2014, 09:52 AM   #4 (permalink)
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There is an the issue with the "cheapskate" market segment in that it has to more than pay for itself. That is more than just the cost of the kit; many won't install it themselves so there is that cost plus paint too.

I'm afraid the real motivator for this sort of thing is Bling and those customers are willing to fork over crazy money for that.

Maybe the ticket is to make Bling that is also aero efficient.
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Old 11-10-2014, 11:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MetroMPG View Post
I believe niky nailed it:

To that end, you may be better off focusing on the thirsty end of the market -- pickup trucks & SUV's
I believe that I have seen a few ideas like this on these forums and it has been suggested to start with the F150, aren't there more of those than any other vehicle?

It does not get very good fuel economy, either.
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Old 11-10-2014, 12:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Has to be reasonably priced
has to increase the visual appeal of the vehicle
has to be relatively simple to install, both for the diy'ers and time taken for installation at a shop
for trucks? Make it in camo/diamond plate/flat black, etc
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Old 11-10-2014, 12:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I really really wish someone made OEM level kits for the chevy vans.
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Old 11-10-2014, 02:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by niky View Post
And you'll have to convince people that the kits actually look good. This is the major hurdle. Sell people a $2k set of flashy chrome wheels that'll kill their fuel economy and will cost them many thousands more in higher-priced tires to fit their new rims... and they won't bat an eyelid. Sell them a fuel-economy improving body-kit that makes their car look like an Insight... and...
Style will sell 100X more than function. Make that 1000X more.

If you could get somebody to run your kit at Bonneville AND get the ricers to copy Bonneville streamliners, then you might have a chance.
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Old 11-10-2014, 04:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Lots of issues to consider in getting the attention of the public and then getting them to part with their money. There seems to be much left undone in the belly pan area as far as the domestic manufacturers are concerned. The underside of light trucks is a real disaster in aerodynamics. The belly pan areas would not require much at all in the way of paint and would not require a ton of body work to install. With all of the sleek aerodynamic bodies being produced today, the belly pan area still leaves much room for improvement.
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Old 11-10-2014, 04:31 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtydave View Post
I really really wish someone made OEM level kits for the chevy vans.
There's a good point, focusing on fleet vehicles like full size vans as well as trucks. If ROI is decent, stuff like big air dams, side skirts, and wheel skirts could become as popular for fleet vehicles as skirts on semi trailers.

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