If you’ve ever put your hand out the window while driving at a high speed, then you have felt the friction of the air pushing your hand backward. That friction pushes back on the vehicle exactly as it pushes back on your hand, and it is one of the biggest factors in determining fuel economy. If a manufacturer can decrease the force of friction pushing backwards on a vehicle, then its fuel economy will increase. Playing with that force of friction is called aerodynamics.
A vehicle is put inside a wind tunnel to simulate how the air will act on it as it drives along the road. The force the wind exerts on the car is measured, and smoke or dye can be injected into the wind of the wind tunnel to see how the air moves around the vehicle, and pictures are taken and analyzed. From here, manufacturers can see which parts of the car can be altered or reshaped to make it as aerodynamic as possible, thus increasing its efficiency.
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