Cutting weight was a major goal for the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette, which is why the American sports car is the first from General Motors to use new lightweight smart material.
Rather than using a motorized actuator to close the hatch vent that releases air from the trunk, Chevy decided opted for a lightweight shape memory alloy wire that does the same job, and is just over a pound lighter.
“The shape memory alloy used on the new Corvette represents nearly five years of research and development work on smart materials for which GM has earned 247 patents,” Paul Alexander, GM smart materials and structures researcher said.
When the trunk is opened, an electrical current is sent to the wire to heat it up, causing it to contract and open up the vent. Once closed, the current is cut off, and the wire returns to its regular shape, effectively closing the vent.
The new technology was likely used on such a small part of the car simply as a test of durability, “And it is just the beginning. We have many more smart material applications in the pipeline that will bring even more improvements to our vehicles going forward,” Alexander said.
Discuss this story at digitalcorvettes.com