Rack and Ruin

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Driving with an empty roof rack racks up fuel consumption

A recent study estimates that the wind resistance (or aerodynamic load) caused by empty roof racks on light-duty vehicles in the U.S. wastes the equivalent of 100 million gallons of gasoline per year. The modelling study, conducted by researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Berkeley National Laboratory, was calibrated to real-world data and was supported by two innovative and powerful means of data-gathering:  on-line forums and crowd-sourcing. The study’s authors concluded:

The aerodynamic efficiency of typical roof racks can be greatly improved and reduce individual vehicle fuel consumption; however, government policies to minimize extensive driving with empty racks – if successful – could save more fuel nationally.

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