GM is using the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 to study the possibility of fitting high-volume vehicles with lightweight carbon fiber body parts.
“Carbon is one-fifth the weight of a composite, which is half the weight of steel,” says Tom Wallace, vehicle line executive for the Chevrolet Corvette, Cadillac XLR, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky and Opel/Vauxhall GT. “Although carbon fiber is expensive today, so was aluminum in the beginning, so was magnesium in the beginning.”
While many may think that the cost of the use of carbon fiber parts will be passed onto he customers raising the prices of vehicles, Wallace believes more companies will produce the material, increasing the demand and reducing the cost.
Wallace points out that it may take 10 years to know the feasibility of carbon fiber. GM engineers will begin studying the durability of the material when the ZR1 hits roads this summer. The ZR1’s uses carbon fiber in the roof, hood, front spoiler, front fenders, side rocker panels and rear spoiler. The use of carbon fiber body parts reduced the weight of the ZR1 by 35 pounds compared to a standard Corvette.
2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Gallery:
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