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Welcome to The Inside Track with ARC. The Auto Research Center is a specialized research facility serving the motorsport, automotive production, commercial, government and bicycle industries. The ARC global headquarters is located in Indianapolis, Indiana which hosts a 50% scale wind tunnel, 7-post, drivetrain test rig, bicycle test facility and CFD cluster center. ARC offers a wide range of solution type packages to further speed and efficiency.

Short nose vs. Long nose results are in!

Over the years, the convention of truck designs have taken the form seen on USA-style cabs – whereby the cab has a nose which extends outward from the main driver cabin. However this trend is not followed in the European markets. Typically, most European semi-trucks are designed as cab over Engine or CoE. Primary reasons for implementing a CoE compared to a conventional long-nosed cab can be narrowed down to a mixture of cultural-thought, infrastructure and operational needs. Having a short cab allows for a longer trailer and thus larger cargo space. Furthermore, positioning the driver over the engine provides improved visual range and slightly better handling of tighter road cornering – especially in Europe where the roads are typically narrower than those seen in the US. The downside of this however, is that for engine repairs and maintenance, the entire cab cover has to be unhinged to allow access to the engine bay and more importantly lack of an extended nose provides very little occupancy protection in the event of a head-on collision.
Aerodynamically, a long-nose not only offers better airflow management, but allows for more opportunity and easy access to improve the aero-package from the fleet operator’s point of view. For example, adding skirts, roof fairings as a result of the lower height of the cabin behind the engine bay, aerodynamic mirrors etc. are far more feasible to add on a long nose cab. The trade-off between improved fuel efficiency from a more aerodynamic truck than a “slightly” larger cargo capacity by extending the trailer on a CoE cab can amount to significant cost savings in the long run. This is certainly beneficial for long distance journeys and heavy loaded freight. In order to quantify the direct relationship between overall performance in terms of drag and fuel savings – which is one of the main important driving factors in today’s designs – a CFD study has been conducted between a standard CoE and US-style Long Nose Cab with a two-axle wheeled trailer. Using this cab and trailer setup, with no aerodynamic modifications, same tractor-trailer gap and ride heights provides an unbiased analysis.
In conclusion, the CFD results between a long nose and CoE semi-truck cab shows that a longer nose provides significantly better aerodynamic performance and a bigger scope for improvement with add-on aerodynamic devices due to the available space. This will have a direct improvement in fuel economy and range. The entire vehicle performance of a longer nose cab can be further complimented with the availability for improved powertrain packaging as well as crash worthiness.
To learn more about ARC's offerings for the Commercial Industry, visit the ARC website, call 317-291-8600 or email at

Interest in the ARC Aerodynamic Bicycle Testing Facility continues to grow

Interest in our Aerodynamic Bicycle Test Facility (ABT) is growing as we continually upgrade its capabilities. ARC is currently accepting 2017 bookings. Make sure to call us soon to get on the schedule. The facility can be used with or without a rider, so whether you are a competitive cyclist, triathlete or a manufacturer of gear and clothing you can use the ABT to improve the overall aerodynamics and create a faster package. You can also use our CFD services to increase your understanding of aerodynamic effects on bicycle performance.
To learn more about ARC's offerings for the Cyling Industry, visit the ARC website, call 317-291-8600 or email at


In the highly competitive world of courier services and fast delivery road transportation, manufacturers of delivery vans are constantly trying to gain an edge in aerodynamic efficiency for enhanced fuel efficiency and performance. In 2016 ARC was approached by China’s SAIC Commercial Vehicle Technical Center – part of the SAIC Motor Company, ranked 46th of the World Fortune 500 corporations – to develop their brand new production van design. The goal is to improve and surpass the design’s aero performance against some of the top leading vans available on the market, within its class. Our team has built an exact scale model of the design for development in our wind tunnel – alongside constant development work through our best practices in-house CFD package. The latter stages of 2016 marked the end of the first phase with excellent improvements obtained in the wind tunnel development. Our engineers are now diligently working to gain even more improvements - which will certainly elevate this production vehicle to the top of the list for efficiently designed vans.
To learn more about ARC's offerings for the Production Vehicle Industry, visit the ARC website, call 317-291-8600 or email at

Thermal Heating

Heat transfer has become an increasingly difficult problem in modern automobiles where increased packaging constraints now require unique thermal management. While steady-state load testing can be very expensive experimentally, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) offers an affordable design alternative. By coupling the Navier-Stokes equations with the energy equation, it is possible to solve for temperature profiles in both the fluid domain and on the surface of surrounding structures. CFD not only has the ability to solve for temperature profiles in the fluid but can also model radiation and thermal sinks and sources. Depending on the specific scenario, there are a variety of thermal boundary conditions that can be applied such as surface temperature, heat flux, and convective heat flux. These simulations can be combined with multiple reference frame zones, porous media zones, and arbitrary mesh interfaces zones to give accurate modelling of fans and radiators. The vehicle can also be simulated effectively in any atmospheric conditions.

Adding all of this to external aerodynamic simulation can help give a complete fluid flow solution for underhood thermal management in production cars, commercial vehicles and high performance racecars. But the same techniques can be used to model in-cabin flows and predict the resulting temperature distribution for passenger comfort for example. Thermal requirements can be varied, but CFD offers a tool that can increase understanding of how these flows develop and maybe avoid a critical issue before it’s too late!

Tech Zone is an additional area of our newsletter where each month a customer question will be answered by the related expert at ARC. Please send in any questions you might have, from wind tunnel test instrumentation, CFD workings, to tuning your shocks.
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