View Full Version : News: GM to test ZR1 carbon fiber weight savings

01-22-08, 10:45 AM
GM to test ZR1 carbon fiber weight savings

Rick Kranz
Automotive News
January 21, 2008 - 12:01 am ET

DETROIT General Motors will use the 2009 Corvette ZR1 to study the feasibility of outfitting high-volume vehicles with lightweight carbon fiber 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."

As demand for carbon fiber increases, Wallace believes more companies will produce the material. The cost of carbon fiber will then decline.

Other automakers are interested, too. Wallace says Toyota has announced a joint venture with a carbon fiber company.

"They are not doing that to make airplanes," he says.

GM is looking for ways to reduce vehicle weight and increase fuel economy. America's new corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, law calls for a fleet average of 35 mpg in 2020.

But Wallace says it might take 10 years to know the feasibility of carbon fiber. When the ZR1 is on the road, engineers can study durability and whether carbon fiber can be used on higher volume vehicles.

The ZR1's carbon fiber parts include the roof, hood, front spoiler, front fenders, side rocker panels and rear spoiler. The carbon fiber parts reduced the ZR1's weight about 35 pounds from that of the standard Corvette.

Wallace says GM wants to be ready "when it comes time (to use) carbon fiber for mass efficiencies."

The limited-edition ZR1 will be GM's highest horsepower car when it goes on sale late this year. The supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 will produce 620-plus hp. GM expects to build about 2,500 annually.

01-22-08, 06:32 PM
This will really be exciting.

It'll take a few years to see how well the CF holds up to the elements. I wonder how much the coating to keep the CF from turning yellow adds to the price of each ZR1.

I remember a few years ago when the C5 Z06 came out. My theory from the beginning is that GM used titanium in small quantities to see how it would hold up over the course of a few years. Sure enough, it has been used more extensively. And that's not even to mention the balsa, sodium filled valves, etc... that they used the C5 Z06 to experiment on.

01-22-08, 06:51 PM
...this Corvette has had no trouble over the years with its Carbon Fiber skin :cool

http://www.callawayownersgroup.com/COTM/2005July/cotm.htm :w