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Fender Guards For EV: An Overlooked Component

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January 21, 2024

Electric vehicles (EVs) continue to gain popularity as more affordable, long-range models come to market. While most attention goes to batteries, motors, charging, and high-tech features, one component often overlooked is the humble fender. This exterior body panel plays an important functional and aesthetic role in EVs.

What Are Fenders?

Fenders are the plastic or metal panels that extend above the wheel wells on a vehicle. On both the front and rear, fenders stretch from the corners of the bumper to the lower edges of the doors or rear quarter panels.

Several key functions:

  • Protect the EV’s body from damage caused by road debris like rocks, gravel, and other projectiles that could chip paint or dent metal panels. Aerodynamic shaping prevents larger objects like sticks or tire treads from flipping up under the fender.
  • Keep mud, water, slush, snow, and sand from splashing up onto the doors, windows, and side mirrors. This improves visibility for the driver in wet conditions.
  • Give the EV a finished, continuous look along the sides rather than having exposed wheel wells. Fenders provide an uninterrupted styling line.
  • Contribute to the aerodynamic shape of most EVs to reduce drag. Smooth fender contours assist air flow around the wheels.
  • Add protection from wheel spray for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vehicles.
  • Prevent wheels from throwing stones and debris outward at high velocity, especially important on rear fenders.

On internal combustion engine vehicles, large front grilles are needed for engine cooling. But EV designs eliminate that requirement. Fenders become the dominant visual element on the front, highlighted by headlights at the corners. The same is true at the rear above the taillights. Well-designed fenders complement the sleek, aerodynamic forms of modern EVs.

Special Considerations for Electric Vehicles

Fender Guards For EV

While based on familiar technology, the unique characteristics of EVs present some specific fender requirements:

  • Lower ride height – Battery packs mounted under the cabin often lower the ride height compared to gas-powered vehicles. Fenders must clear speed bumps, steep driveway and parking lot entrances, and other obstructions without scraping.
  • Added weight – The mass of the battery pack, typically over 1000 pounds, puts more stress on fenders when turning and driving over bumps or debris. Reinforcing helps withstand forces during vehicle dynamics.
  • Regen braking – Rapid deceleration from regenerative braking can throw small rocks and road debris at the rear fenders with greater velocity. Extra protection is needed.
  • Noise reduction – As EVs generate less drivetrain noise, fenders should be designed to dampen road noise and slush/spray sounds entering the cabin. Acoustic absorbent materials are sometimes added.
  • High voltage – Proximity to battery components means fender design must avoid any damage that could expose high voltage parts and create electrical risks.
  • Recyclability – Composite fender materials are chosen that can be more easily recycled at end of vehicle life, in keeping with environmental goals.

To meet those needs, many EV fenders are molded from dent and damage-resistant plastic composites rather than steel. The material is lightweight but strong enough to tolerate minor impacts. Careful structural design and reinforcements also help withstand dynamic loads and forces.

Rear fenders in particular may incorporate additional stone guards or protective coatings since regenerative braking can accelerate debris. Inner liners provide insulation against road noise. Proper electrical isolation and grounding ensures no exposure to high voltage.

Engineering Challenges

There are always engineering tradeoffs when designing something as ostensibly simple as a fender:

  • Larger fender volumes improve aerodynamics and protection but add weight and cost.
  • Stiffer structures resist damage but transmit more noise and vibration into the cabin.
  • Low-profile designs look sleek but reduce clearance for obstacles.
  • Smooth surfaces shed water and debris but show scratches and dings more easily.
  • Composite materials are lightweight and dent-resistant yet difficult to repair if cracked or fractured.
  • Features like inset lights and sharp creases look exciting but complicate manufacturing.

Through extensive use of computer-aided engineering software, EV automakers simulate loads, optimize shapes, prototype designs, and test components to find the right balance. Fender molds and attachment points are fine-tuned to account for how the entire chassis flexes during real-world driving.

Despite the challenges, well-engineered fenders are essential for occupant safety, vehicle protection, noise reduction and desirability. Even overlooked components are carefully refined in today’s EVs. Proper repair or replacement of damaged fenders helps ensure your EV stays looking and functioning at its best.

Fender Shapes and Styling

The visible exterior location means fenders also play a role in the aesthetics and styling of EVs, helping to convey brand identity and model personality.

Some common fender shapes:

  • Rounded – A continuous curved arc, similar to the first EVs converted from existing gas vehicles. Provides a clean, simple appearance but less distinctive.
  • Flared – Wider at the rear, following the contour of the wheel well. Used to emphasize sporty, aggressive stances. Associated with performance-oriented EVs.
  • Square – Angled versus curved. Mostly on truck-style EVs for a rugged, capable look. Can incorporate vent slits.
  • Accented – Small spoilers, fins, or kicks added to the trailing edge of the rear fender provide styling details.

Beyond the overall shape, other styling cues can make fenders more noticeable:

  • Contrasting colors that offset the fender from the rest of the body for a two-tone look. Most often done in black or gray.
  • Chrome or metallic trim strips that accentuate the fender lines.
  • Exposed vents, intakes or gills that imply performance, even if not functional.
  • Integral LED running lights and turn signals that animate the fenders.
  • Stamped creases or ridges that break up flat expanses and catch light.
  • Labeling, pinstriping, graphics, or logos that identify higher performance or luxury models.

While fighting for attention among all the high-tech features of EVs, distinctive fender design remains an important part of making an emotional connection with buyers.

Fender Repair and Maintenance

Despite their durable materials and reinforcement, fenders still take abuse from road hazards like loose stones, sprinkler overspray, car washes, parking bumps, and winter road salt. Minor scuffs and scratches accumulate over time.

However, more significant fender damage can occur from scrapes or collisions with curbs, poles, walls, shopping carts, and other vehicles in parking lots where maneuvering space is tight. Major crashes can crumple fenders beyond repair.

To keep your EV looking its best:

  • Inspect fenders regularly when washing the vehicle. Touch up small stone chips and scratches.
  • Try not to rub fenders against walls or curbs when parking. Consider adding clearance markers if space is very tight.
  • Apply protective film or molding strips to high impact zones.
  • Select wash bays with adequate room to maneuver if using automated car washes. Avoid brush-style washers.
  • Learn proper techniques for entering and exiting steep driveways without scraping.
  • Be cautious plowing through muddy or debris-strewn roads that could damage fenders.

If accident damage occurs:

  • Determine if the underlying structure is bent or cracked which requires replacement.
  • For cosmetic damage, professional repair and refinishing can often restore the fender surface.
  • Badly damaged front fenders may need headlights, sensors and other components transferred over.
  • Verify rear fenders still provide proper tire clearance after repair.
  • Check for any tears in weather sealing or undercoating.

Well-maintained fenders protect your investment while contributing to the visual appeal of your EV. Despite their low-key role, don’t underestimate the importance of these exterior body panels. With manufacturers applying the same advanced engineering used throughout the vehicle, the humble fender plays a vital part in the integrated design.

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