Two of the greatest race cars of all time–the Chaparral 2J and the Brabham BT46B–used electric fans to suck their chassis into the ground. The fans could generate downforce at zero mph, and gave both cars absurdly high cornering and acceleration capabilities. Unfortunately, both were banned from competition, effectively for being too fast. Until now, this tech has never made it into a road car, but UK's Ariel might change that.
Ok, so the Ariel Aero-P Atom concept is stretching the definition of what it means to be a road car, but hey, it's got a registration plate on the back. As part of a UK R&D competition, Ariel developed this wild Atom based on inspiration from the Chaparral and the Brabham.
It doesn't use any drag-creating wings, instead generating all of its downforce with two electric fans mounted to the underside of the car. The fans only power on when downforce is required, and Ariel added rubber side skirts to the car, just like the Brabham. Ariel says its fans improve fuel economy and emissions by getting rid of the drag created by a conventional wing, while boosting acceleration, braking, and handling performance.
Currently, the Aero-P Atom is a concept only, but Ariel to developing the system further. For a small manufacturer like Ariel, building performance cars that are good on fuel and low on emissions is a necessity, and that forces some pretty radical solutions. Banned race car tech in a street car is about as radical as it gets.
We sincerely hope this makes production.