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Pioneering the application of motorsport technology to HGV drag reduction

  • In development since 2010
  • Delivers significant and measurable drag reduction over typical air management kits (10%).  The equivalent figure for an ‘un-kitted’ truck is over 33%
  • Independently tested and verified at MIRA and Millbrook
  • Strategic partnership announced with Eddie Stobart Limited

The Commercial Vehicle Show, NEC, Birmingham, 14 April 2015 – Wirth Research is proud to announce the launch of its all-new WR AeroKit™ at Britain’s largest road freight transport event.  The WR AeroKit is a cutting-edge and innovative application of British motorsport technology that delivers truly outstanding performance and results in terms of heavy goods vehicles’ (HGV) drag reduction and lower carbon emissions.

Wirth Research started the development of the WR AeroKit in 2010 in a bid to use the learnings of its thorough motorsport experience to enhance the aerodynamics of HGVs.  The company started detailed Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis to understand the designs and air flow modifications required to reduce the aerodynamic drag of HGVs, and if such modifications were feasible.  The results were outstanding.

Eddie Stobart Limited

The first adopter of this new technology, with an exclusive strategic partnership announced today, is the UK’s leading multimodal transport and logistics brand, Eddie Stobart Limited.

Eddie Stobart CEO, William Stobart, said: “We have pioneered several environmental initiatives in our industry over the years, such as modal shift from road to rail, in biomass renewable energy and now in drag and carbon reduction on the road. It really excites me that this is championship-winning motorsport aerodynamic technology applied to the road, and I’m proud that we are the first to use it as we roll out the kits to new trucks coming on to the fleet.”

Eddie Stobart COO, David Pickering, added: “This is a great example of Eddie Stobart working in partnership with an industry and an endeavour dear to this company’s heart, motorsport. Wirth Research’s prowess in this field is without question, the results on the track speak for themselves.  We will be rolling out the WR AeroKit with new trucks coming on to the Eddie Stobart fleet later this year and I look forward to delivering our environmental results on the road.”

The Ultimate Aerodynamic Challenge

Nick Wirth, President of Wirth Research, said: “Having worked in F1 and most other levels of motorsport since the 1980s, I am always looking for the next challenge, and in many ways, enhancing the drag performance of HGVs is the ultimate aerodynamic challenge.  The results have been such that we have committed to invest heavily in the research and tooling to develop and bring the WR AeroKit to market, so convinced are we of the technology’s benefits to drag reduction and the lowering of carbon emissions.

“It started as an aerodynamic challenge, and has resulted in an environmentally-conscious technology that helps deliver on the corporate social responsibility commitments of fleet operators.”

Wirth Research Technology

Simon Crompton, Managing Director of Wirth Research, added: “Technically, this project has demonstrated that our motorsport-derived CFD development processes – with no requirement for physical or wind tunnel testing – are perfectly applicable to much larger vehicles.  It also, aesthetically, looks really fantastic on the vehicles.

“The HGV manufacturers already do a superb job aerodynamically, and the performance improvements delivered by the WR AeroKit are simply an enhancement, through intelligent use of spoilers and vanes, of an existing piece of class-leading design and engineering.  And just to be absolutely sure of ourselves, the results we derive are from comparisons to trucks already fitted with air management kits, as verified by independent testing of the WR AeroKit conducted at MIRA and Millbrook.”

The WR AeroKit is a proprietary set of components from Wirth Research that can be tailored to each type of vehicle, and includes in-house designed roof and chin spoilers, bumper turning vanes and trailer kits.

Testing Results

  • Fitted to an unkitted truck from new, the Wirth Research WR AeroKit reduces aerodynamic drag by 33%
  • Compared to existing air management systems popular among many UK road haulage fleet operators, the Wirth Research WR AeroKit delivers 10% less aerodynamic drag
  • Corresponding CO2 emissions reduction recorded in line with expectations based on aerodynamic drag

More than 500,000 miles of real-world intensive physical testing of the WR AeroKit was conducted on a trial fleet of Eddie Stobart tractor units and trailers during the course of 2014.  Independent and physical testing at both the Motor Industry Reseach Association (MIRA) and Millbrook in Bedfordshire followed, and the results matched, and in some cases exceeded, those gathered by the CFD testing lab and super computer at Wirth Research HQ in Oxfordshire.

Richard Burnett, Road Haulage Association Chief Executive, said:

"The Road Haulage Association welcomes innovations such as the WR AeroKit.  Reduced drag and emissions support the industry’s objectives and underscore the importance of our environmental consciousness, and I’m delighted to see it launched here at the Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham with Eddie Stobart.  It is good news for everyone."

Motorsport Pedigree

The development of the Wirth Research WR AeroKit has been enabled by the company’s world-class CFD capabilities, derived from a long and rich pedigree in the top levels of motorsport. Wirth Research and its founder, Nick Wirth, bring three decades’ experience in F1, Indy 500, IndyCar, LMP racing, World Endurance racing and, together with long-term partners, boast multiple championship winning sports car programmes, all designed using the company’s state-of-the-art aerodynamics and CFD capabilities.  Wirth’s in-house developed virtual engineering technologies, enable the use of complete simulated vehicle design, development and testing, reducing the need for wasteful manufacture of development models and prototypes.  These technologies have helped revolutionise the industry and bring to market pioneering new products, with the most recent example being launched in Birmingham today – the Wirth Research WR AeroKit™.

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About Wirth Research 

Wirth Research is a fast growing innovative engineering company specialising in research, development, design and manufacture for the motor racing industry and other high technology sectors. Founded in 2003, the business pioneers the use of advanced virtual engineering technologies, developed in-house, which enable the use of a complete simulated vehicle design, development and testing process reducing the need for wasteful manufacture of development models and prototypes. Additionally, Wirth Research has developed valuable in-house resources such as world class composite manufacturing capability, flow simulation and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) services and a driver-in-the-loop simulator with a bespoke thermal tyre model.

In motorsports, Wirth Research has a long-term partnership with Honda Performance Development Inc. (HPD), on the design, development and manufacture of the multiple championship-winning ARX sports car programme.

About Eddie Stobart Limited

Founded in Cumbria in the 1960s, Eddie Stobart started out as an agricultural contractor. From the first named trucks; Twiggy, Suzi, Dolly and Tammy, this family business has grown into a company that employs over 5,000 staff across 40 sites served by over 3,000 vehicles.

Given this growth, it is no surprise that an Eddie Stobart vehicle is seen on average every 4.5 minutes on the UK’s roads. It has become a business and brand that is loved by the public, with a strong fan base of Stobart spotters following its iconic vehicles around the country.

Recognised as a UK Superbrand, the name ‘Eddie Stobart’ is synonymous with professionalism and quality, providing multimodal logistics solutions throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe. Our General Transport division is supported by the largest rail freight FMGC services in the UK, specialist divisions for the transportation of fresh and fast moving goods, and accredited logistics and warehousing solutions, along with an automotive division in the UK and EU.

The facility to offer customers innovative, flexible and environmentally friendly logistics solutions support our vision; to become the UK’s leading multimodal transport and logistics provider.

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For further information contact:
Influence Associates   
James Andrew

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