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The Power of Air: Equinox’s Design Enhances Aerodynamics

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It’s no secret the compact SUV segment is one of the fastest growing in the world. Customers want passenger and cargo space that fits their lifestyle without compromising on fuel efficiency or safety.

However, the larger the dimensions of a vehicle, the bigger the challenges of making it aerodynamically efficient. On the move, a vehicle has to forge a path of least resistance, and the smoother it slices through the air the more fuel efficient and refined it is.

That was the task for the Design and Aerodynamic teams working on the shape of the all-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox: to create an all-new compact SUV that is a perfect balance of style, function and efficiency.

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And with the segment leading 15.1 Km/L on the highway (1.5L FWD models), the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox certainly achieves that goal. However, it wasn’t a task that was trivially accomplished.

Size matters

Vehicle aerodynamics are a carefully considered science; styling flourishes cannot be added at whim without evaluating their effect on airflow around the vehicle. For the 2018 Equinox, the design teams took great care in creating a refined new vehicle shape that maintains the key proportions of a small crossover/SUV, without adversely affecting aerodynamic efficiency. In addition to delivering the utility and functionality customers look for in the segment, the Equinox’s expressive exterior has a lean, sculpted form sporting Chevrolet’s signature design cues.

“Aerodynamic performance is a big contributor to fuel economy, but the box-like shapes of crossovers and SUVs are not conducive to aero efficiency,” said Nick Lico, Global Aerodynamics development lead. “Working with Design, we were able to craft an athletic shape that is both attractive and segment-leading in aero efficiency.”

Tunnel vision

Balancing every-day usability of the new Equinox with aero needs was not an easy task and it was something Chevrolet engineers focused on single-mindedly. Picking the right dimensions, for instance, was crucial. The Equinox had to be the right size, to make it easier to park and maneuver, but without compromising on efficiency or even interior space. As a result, the overall length was reduced by 119 millimeters but despite the smaller exterior dimensions than the older model, interior volume was increased.

The reduced length, however, posed another hurdle to aero efficiency, because it is tougher to push a shorter shape cleanly through the air.

The exterior styling of the all-new Equinox was honed after more than 500 hours in General Motor’s full-scale wind tunnel. The final design not only maintains the essence of the intended design, but reduces wind resistance by 10 percent over the previous model.

The Equinox’s cutting-edge approach to efficiency also sees the addition of a new active aerodynamics element. Much like features found on high-end super cars, the Equinox can literally alter its aerodynamic performance depending on the situation. It boasts available electronically controlled upper and lower grille shutters which account for improved aerodynamics. They close in certain conditions on the highway, when engine cooling needs are reduced, pushing more air around the vehicle to reduce drag.

It’s all in the detail

An aero-efficient body is the sum of several small, but significant, design details. These styling elements not only contribute to the aesthetics, they address drag around various areas of the vehicle, making the Equinox’s design a harmonious blend of form and function.

  • The larger rear spoiler was designed to help reduce turbulence at the rear of the vehicle for less wind resistance.
  • The rear corner incorporates a series of cleverly incorporated “air trips,” as the designers call them, for optimal air separation at the edges of the taillamps and corners at the D-pillars.
  • New tire deflectors help achieve the same aerodynamic advantage as a traditional air dam, but without compromising the Equinox’s sculpted design.
  • Underbody panels on FWD models improve airflow beneath the vehicle.

About the 2018 Equinox

The all-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox is a fresh and modern compact SUV, featuring an expressive design, increased cargo space, the latest connectivity, expanded roster of available safety features and all-new range of turbocharged engines.

Cargo area has increased, with new storage features such as a large, hidden underfloor storage space and a flat cargo floor that makes loading and unloading easier.

Purposeful technologies are designed to help keep passengers safe, comfortable and connected. New safety features include Safety Alert Seat, Forward Collison Alert with Following Distance Indicator and more.

The 2018 Equinox is on sale now in Chevrolet showrooms across the Middle East.

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General Motors’ Fleet Operators Take to the Road with All-New 2018 Line-up

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General Motors took its top fleet operators to the road this month for a thrilling ride and drive starting and ending at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah. The dynamic event gave attendees first-hand experience of the company’s latest design, safety, technology and engineering credentials, including the 2018 GMC Terrain, 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, as well as the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu. Participants also got the chance to experience the 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV, which is already a game-changer in the US and is pegged to arrive to select Middle East markets by the end of 2018. Boasting a range in excess of 500km (NEDC), the Chevrolet Bolt EV is a promise for a more sustainable future mobility landscape in the region.

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2018 Chevrolet Equinox: Safety in numbers

Chevrolet Equinox Frame-Arab-Motor-World-01
Chevrolet Equinox Frame-Arab-Motor-World-02

A leaner, stronger body is not merely about structural integrity, it contributes to overall safety in a variety of ways

A lighter SUV is always more agile. For the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, shedding about 180 kg – the weight of an upright piano – pays dividends in a nimbler, more responsive and more refined driving experience. At the core of this weight-saving exercise is the Equinox’s all-new, lighter body structure, which was designed and optimized for top safety ratings.

For the “light weighting” process, Chevrolet Equinox engineers focused on three key areas:

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  • Intelligent design: This was achieved through multidisciplinary optimization and computer-aided engineering (CAE).
  • Use of lighter materials: The engineers strategically employed advanced materials, like ultra-high strength steel and aluminum.
  • Innovative manufacturing techniques: Implementing a mix of clever manufacturing and joining techniques, including metal inert gas welding, laser brazing or structural adhesives was part of the process.

This meticulous design process, which enabled the engineers to eliminate close to 10 percent of the Equinox’s mass to improve safety also resulted in a more dynamic, responsive and fuel efficient vehicle.

  • Safety — the strategic placement of high-strength and ultra-high strength steel in the body structure is the foundation of a robust “safety cage” surrounding passengers. It is complemented by the Equinox’s restraint systems and other standard and available safety features to manage energy in the event of a crash and help protect occupants.
  • Safer handling and comfortable ride — the more stable an SUV is on the move, the safer it is. With their inherently high center of gravity, SUVs are generally more prone to body roll in sudden directional changes – not the Chevrolet Equinox.

The stronger body structure greatly reduces the need to account for chassis flex in the suspension system’s tuning. This allowed engineers to focus more on ride comfort and fine-tune ride and handling attributes with greater precision. It also supported hard-mounting the front and rear suspension cradles at six points apiece on the body, further enhancing nimbleness and responsiveness and making it relatively safer in high-speed avoidance maneuvers.

The lighter weight also means the Equinox can make the most of its 1.5L and 2.0L turbocharged engines and deliver brisk acceleration. This makes it safer while merging with fast-moving traffic on a highway.

“The Equinox uses several types of premium high-strength steels that offer both protection and rigidity. The weight reduction comes mostly from the use of thinner-gauge high-strength steels combined with optimization of the geometry (or topology) of the structure, which brings fuel economy benefits and makes the vehicle more nimble,” said Albert Chou, GM Body Vehicle System Engineer.

Apart from the enhanced safety there are other happy byproducts of this weight-shedding regimen:

  • Exceptional quietness and refinement — Just because the body is lighter and stiffer doesn’t mean the Equinox compromises on refinement. A stiff body structure is better at preventing noise and vibrations, for a quieter and smoother ride. By helping to block noise and vibration paths, fewer sound-absorbing and other dissipative materials were required, contributing to the Equinox’s overall weight loss.
  • Fuel economy — Lower weight improves fuel economy. The Equinox delivers combined fuel economy of 15 km/l for the standard 1.5L turbocharged engine with front-wheel drive in the LS and LT versions and 13.6 km/l for the 2.0L turbocharged engine in the full-spec Premier model.

“The lighter and stronger body is not only designed to deliver exceptional occupant protection, it also aids efficient performance in terms of reduced fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions. This weight optimization delivers a greener drive experience and uncompromised safety, with a lower cost of ownership,” added Ahmed Soudodi, Head of Brand of Chevrolet Middle East.

The 2018 Equinox is on sale now in Chevrolet showrooms across the Middle East.

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