Mercedes Concept Digital Transformer: double-take

One of the stars of Frankfurt this year was the Mercedes Concept IAA (Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile). Its trick is to elongate body-sections around the tail at speeds above 80km/h to improve aerodynamics. Other technology is deployed around the vehicle when this happens, but the visual drama is all at the rear-end, where the car appears to elongate. The aero behind this is that the longer (and smaller in section) you can make the tail of a car (where the airflow detaches from the body) the less resultant turbulent drag the shape creates…


So back in 2006 I designed a car that would do exactly the same trick. It was for my final MA project, based around a dissertation ‘the perception of aerodynamics’, and I’ll say right now, Mercedes did a better job!..but it was essentially the same idea. I say that not by way of claiming any ownership, as nothing is ever really ‘new’, more that these ideas have been around for a while…and it’s good to share ideas that have been realised in one form or another:


Initially I started with this idea to just have side panels that cleaned the airflow around the tail of the shape. But projects evolve (not always for the good!) and ended up with the dual-mode tail – short for urban, long for aero:


short package

How to make the elongated tail work elegantly was beyond my project timeline / skillset at the time so I ended up making the 1/4-scale model in its ‘long’ mode..and orange.


Mercedes have created a effective solution to an aerodynamic conundrum… and I’m glad to have worked out the same design solution as they did!


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