Like these would be developed for the next family crossover? No way.
As the expected reveal date gets closer, more information is coming to light regarding the mid-engined C8 Chevrolet Corvette. Only yesterday did you bring you the most accurate rendering to date so far, which was based on spy shots. Today, thanks to the folks at Corvette Blogger, we have additional info regarding adaptive aerodynamics. In the past, GM has filed patent applications for active aero systems, but now we’re hearing that three new patents were recently awarded to GM and they all sound like they’re bound to appear on a high-performance vehicle. You know, like the C8.
The three new adaptive aero technologies GM now possess include Active Side-Skirts, Active Spoilers, and Downforce Generating Ducts. What’s interesting about all three is that the submitted patent drawings show these systems integrated in to the C7 Corvette body style. How come? Two possible reasons: One, Chevrolet doesn’t want detailed images of the C8 to get out, and two, the C7 is still expected to be produced alongside the C8 for a period of time, meaning future updates are likely. But for now let’s further examine the new systems.
As the patent application states, the vehicle side skirts are an aerodynamic device typically fitted to a vehicle body side between the front and rear wheels. The reason for doing so is to improve streamline ambient airflow around the rear wheels to reduce 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 necessary information 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.
Ducts are used to move air from one part of the car to another. That simple. For example, the C7 has ducts on the rear quarter panels used for cooling the transmission and differential fluids. But on a mid-engine platform cooling is even more important. Why? Forward-facing ducts are required in order to capture the air and then route to 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. Also impressive the fact that these ducts can be on both the top and bottom of the car.
Given everything above, could these new active aero technologies be applied to the typical crossover? Of course. Technically just about anything is possible. But why would GM spend all of that time and money developing new active aero systems for family crossovers? No, this was all done for high-performance.