2014 Corvette decked out in carbon fiber

By Rhoda Miel
News Editor

Published: January 14, 2013 6:00 am ET

Every 2014 Corvette will have carbon fiber hoods and roofs. Previously, carbon fiber was offered only as an upgrade. (General Motors Co. photo)

Related to this story

Topics Materials Suppliers Automotive
Companies & Associations

DETROIT (Jan. 14, 10:45 a.m. ET) — General Motors Co. is upping the ante on carbon fiber for the auto industry, making the composite standard for the hood and roof on its next-generation Chevrolet Corvette.

GM unveiled the 2014 Corvette — the seventh generation, or C7, for the sports car — during a special event Jan. 13 in advance of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. GM has brought back the Stingray name for the new Corvette.

While the Corvette has had carbon fiber as an upgraded option in the past, the new Corvette will have it on every vehicle, even base-line models, said Tadge Juechter, the car’s chief engineer.

The carbon-fiber hood comes in at about half the weight of the current sheet-molded-compound version, said Tom Toft, body vehicle systems engineer, during an interview after the Corvette unveiling. The roof on the 2014 C7 version is slightly larger than its sixth-generation predecessor, but carbon fiber still reduces the weight to 6 kilograms, from 9 kilograms.

Dropping weight in those parts helps to lower the Corvette’s center of gravity, which improves performance, Toft noted, while the lighter roof also will be appreciated by buyers who remove the panel for drives on sunny days.

The carbon-fiber body panels will come to the assembly plant ready to be painted, just as current SMC panels arrive, he said. That will allow the automaker to bring the carbon fiber on line seamlessly.

The Corvette still is far from a mainstream car. IHS Automotive estimates GM will sell 21,000 Corvettes in 2014 — still making it a low-volume vehicle for the industry. However, production of carbon-fiber body parts even at that level will push the volume of the composite used in the industry.

The 21,000 projected sales figure for Corvette paces well above the 2,000-3,000 Chrysler Group LLC Vipers sold each year. The Viper is Corvette’s closest North American rival, and launched production with a carbon-fiber hood, roof and trunk lid in 2012.

The Viper uses a standard pre-preg process for its carbon-fiber parts, made by Plasan Carbon Composites of Bennington, Vt.

While GM has not released the name of its parts supplier for the carbon fiber on the Corvette, Toft noted that it is using a newly developed heat and pressure production process. Plasan is building an $18 million plant in Walker, Mich., to produce parts starting this year for an unnamed vehicle, using in-house-developed production with a compression press system.

“For GM, the more we can do that can make carbon fiber more affordable, and the more we can use it, the better it is for everyone,” Toft said.

In addition to the standard painted body panels, customers will also have an option to buy panels with an exposed weave. Those parts will be made in a more traditional process. However, if an exposed-weave part develops a flaw during production, the automaker can put that part back into production as a painted part, rather than scrapping the entire panel, as happens today.


Comments

2014 Corvette decked out in carbon fiber

By Rhoda Miel
News Editor

Published: January 14, 2013 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Ford moving forward in carbon fiber for 'high volume' use

April 17, 2015 10:21 am ET

Ford Motor Co. has signed a deal with a carbon-fiber manufacturer to jointly explore “high-volume” automotive uses for the lightweight...    More

Image

Force majeure declared at six European sites since mid-March

April 17, 2015 1:10 pm ET

At least six European resin makers have declared force majeure on polyethylene, polypropylene and related products since mid-March, leading to higher ...    More

Image

Executives step down from Star Thermoplastics

April 17, 2015 12:56 pm ET

Executives Randall Fortin and Larry Johnson no longer are with materials firm Star Thermoplastics Alloys & Rubbers Inc.    More

Image

Zoltek expanding CF capacity in Europe

April 17, 2015 10:12 am ET

Leading carbon fiber group Zoltek Corp. has signed a strategic agreement with the Hungarian government to expand its operation in northern Hungary,...    More

Image

Hanwha Azdel adds capacity in Lynchburg

April 16, 2015 2:01 pm ET

Composite maker Hanwha Azdel Inc. will add space and a new production line at its Lynchburg, Va., production facility, the company announced April 16.    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 15, 2015 - September 17, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events