We Can’t State For Certain That Chevrolet Is Building a Mid-Engine Corvette, But…
There’s been a lot of buzz of late about the mid-engine Corvette. Ironically, the one voice that has been absent from all the clamor has been Chevrolet itself. However, we’ve now learned that General Motors has been awarded three new adaptive aero technology patents. Based on the information contained in the submitted patent drawings, this new technology was specifcially designed/configured for a high-performance sports car….like a mid-engine Corvette.
The three new adaptive aero technology patents that GM now possesses are for: Active Side-Skirts, Active Spoilers and Downforce Generating Ducts. What’s most interesting about the patent filings is that all three drawings submitted show the new technology integrated into a C7 Corvette. The most probable reason the patents were submitted this way was to avoid image leaks that showed renderings of the mid-engine Corvette from finding their way onto the internet. It’s also possible that GM still has further variant of the C7 Corvette that they wish to produce that might showcase some of this tech.
Here is a brief overview (and a copy of the image that accompanied the patent filing) for each of the technology patents that GM was awarded this week.
Active Side Skirts
As the patent application states, the vehicle side skirts are an aerodynamic device typically fitted to the sides of the vehicle’s body between the front and rear wheels. The reason for installing these skirts is to improve streamline ambient airflow around the rear wheels, thereby reducing drag. The patent states that “the larger the area of the side skirts, the lower aerodynamic drag on the vehicle.” This system also has sensors that can detect the rotating speed of the wheel as well as the speed of the vehicle relative to the road surface. There’s also a controller that’s programmed to send commands to actuators that can extend and retract the side skirts “toward and away from the road surface.”
Like the side skirts above, this new active spoiler includes sensors that communicate all information deemed necessary for controlling the unit. These sensors monitor the rotating speed of the rear wheels as well as detecting the velocity of ambient airflow relative to the vehicle. There are even sensors that monitor the steering wheel angle and detect yaw rate. All of this information is then fed to the controller which then adjusts the rear spoiler’s height and angle.
Downforce Generating Ducts
Ducts are used to move air from one part of the car to another. For example, the C7 has ducts on the rear quarter panels used for cooling the transmission and differential fluids. However, on a mid-engine platform, cooling is even more important.
Forward-facing ducts are present specifically to capture air and then route it into the various areas that require additional cooling. What GM has done with this patent is make the ducts a fully-enclosed structure. There’s now an entry port positioned to receive the ambient airflow and a second/exit port to exhaust the airflow from the duct. These two ports, combined with the fully-enclosed structure are configured to generate an aerodynamic downforce on the vehicle while in motion. What makes this particular tech even more impressive is the fact that these ducts can mounted be on both the top and bottom of the car.
While these patents are conclusive proof that GM is building a mid-engine Corvette, this is compelling evidence that these new technologies are going to be used on a variant of the sports car. Moreover, the fact that the last of these technologies listed – the Downforce Generating Ducts – is designed to direct air into the rear half of the car certainly lends credence to the idea that a mid-engine car of somesort is being developed.