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Streamlining the Prius

By Jamie J. Gooch

What can you do to sell more cars when you’ve already got the best-selling hybrid in America? If you’re Toyota, you go for the cool factor. Some might find 50 miles per gallon to be cool enough, but for those not convinced, Toyota has released the Prius PLUS Performance Package.

“PLUS enhances the driving experience for Toyota hybrid enthusiasts by offering cool and fun accessories that add sporty looks with performance handling,” according to the car manufacturer’s news release. “It features several Toyota accessories that complement the Prius’ core values of Eco and Advanced Technology.”

CFD Prius
The Toyota Prius PLUS Performance Package was proven to improve
aerodynamics thanks to CFD software.

Complementing core values means the PLUS package doesn’t have a negative effect on the car’s biggest selling point: gas mileage. Before making that claim, Toyota made sure the ground effects kit, which includes front and rear spoilers, side skirts and a rear diffuser, were aerodynamic.

CFD for MPG
SimuTech Group, an ANSYS Channel Partner based in Rochester, NY, performed a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis for Toyota and its supplier Tiercon. SimuTech used ANSYS CFD software to conduct aerodynamic comparison studies on the new PLUS Performance Package. SimuTech engineers then performed simulations to determine optimum airflow across the vehicle’s outer body. As a result of using the software simulations, the engineers verified that the ground effects kit developed for the new package provided an overall improvement in aerodynamic drag for the Prius.

Prius
Testing the Prius PLUS Performance package’s aerodynamics in ANSYS
CFD software.

That’s right, not only did the PLUS package –which also includes “race-inspired” 17-in. forged alloy wheels low-profile tires and lowered springs –not hurt the Prius’ fuel efficiency, it improved it. That could help Toyota move the performance packages, which cost between   $2,999   and $3,699.

“We were pleased to work with Toyota and Tiercon to assure they achieved the results they were looking for,” said Alan McKim, SimuTech vice president of customer services in a news release. The company says its upfront analysis helps optimize designs without costly trial and error testing.

“Though the majority of our work is providing engineering technical support and guidance to our ANSYS software users, we were more than happy to work with Tiercon and Toyota by providing advanced consulting services for this particular analysis,” McKim said. DE

Jamie Gooch is managing editor of Desktop Engineering magazine. Contact him via de-editors@deskeng.com.

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About Jamie J. Gooch

Jamie Gooch is the managing editor of Desktop Engineering. Contact him at de-editors@deskeng.com.