Chevrolet Engineers Auto Sunscreen for the ZR1
Automakers the world over have been using composite materials such as carbon fiber on their race cars for quite some time. The material is five times lighter than normal steel and yet twice as strong. Until now, mass produced vehicles could not feature exposed carbon panels, due to the way they degrade thanks to the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays. With no other choice, automakers just chose to paint them, leaving the naked weave of the carbon material as a very sought after aesthetic – especially on cool fast cars, needing that race-bred look.
Mark Voss, senior design engineer of the Corvette ZR1, explains: “Everyone said it couldn’t be done, and we were crazy for trying.”
Undaunted, Voss and his team toiled away for three years to develop a high gloss, UV-resistant clear coat that now allows exposed carbon fiber panels on the body of the ZR1. The high-tech coating also protects the components from stone chips and scratches. No cheap carbon look rubbish for the ZR1 then. Instead the roof panel, roof bow, rocker moldings, front fascia splitter, and the underside of the hood will all get new panels that will feature the exposed-weave carbon fiber. The ZR1 has carbon fiber floor panels as well, although not in the exposed-weave format.
Hit the jump for the full story as well as a video that explains the new technology.
For the Corvette Z06, carbon fiber fenders and floor panels come standard with an optional package that includes splitters, rockers, and roof panels. This should no doubt transform the way manufacturers look at carbon fiber in terms of options for aesthetic and functional bodywork. It also makes you wonder how BMW, for example, have been using exposed carbon on the roofs of the M3 and M6 for so long. Hmmm...
Pushing all of that aside, we love this new technology and we are excited to see what it will bring!
Source: GM USA