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Corvette’s Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter Hosts A ZR1 Chat

by Keith Cornett on April 29, 2008

The 2009 Corvette ZR1

Corvette’s Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter hosted a chat on the GMNext.com website this afternoon to discuss the 2009 Corvette ZR1 so we made sure not to miss it! What did we learn from the Corvette Chief today? Plenty. Tadge touched on a variety of subjects relating to the Corvette ZR1 including early concepts to the engineering challenges faced by the team. Continue reading for more of Tadge’s comments plus the complete chat transcript.

Tadge was asked about the fuel economy testing and he said all that would be happening within the next couple of months. The consensus from Team Corvette is that they are expecting the fuel economy ratings to be somewhat less than the Z06, and according to Tadge, GM is also expecting the Corvette ZR1 to be subject to the gas-guzzler tax, albeit a small tax.

On the subject of the much debated polycarbonate window hood, Tadge said the reason for its inclusion was two-fold. “We minimized the clearance between the engine and the hood to maximize forward vision from the driver’s seat. This dictated a very close tolerance between engine and hood skin. Design helped make this need an aesthetic ‘win’ also by covering the intercooler with the transparent panel. You can see the engine move under the hood and since we have only a thin pane of polycarbonate, the hood surface is very low.”

As for the naming of the ZR1, GM once again turned to heritage. “The reason we named this model the ZR1 is because this version is virtually the same as the C4 ZR1. Both ZR1s introduced new engine technology to the Corvette while the C4 ZR1 was the first multi-valve engine in a Corvette and the C6 ZR1 is the first super-charged engine in a Corvette. Also, philosophically, both cars represent the top of the Corvette line. In other words, the ultimate Corvette. Max performance both on the track and on the street and fully contented.”

The chat forum is an excellent opportunity for GM staff to interact with owners and enthusiasts and we encourage them to continue the chat series with other members of the Corvette team. Turnout was a lot lower than I expected with the number of participants reaching a high of 18. Still, we appreciate the fact that Tadge and the other GM members provided a very interesting and enlightening afternoon event.

Finally, GM has set up a dedicated Corvette ZR1 area at www.ZR1.GMNext.com The mini-site includes photos, videos and the history of America’s favorite supercar. They also have set up a mobile ZR1 news alert function. To subscribe, text ZR1 to 466398 for exclusive ZR1 news and information delivered directly to your cell phone.


Here is the entire chat transcript:

Vince Muniga – GM:
Hello Corvette fans. I’m Vince Muniga and I’ll be moderating this chat session today. Today’s chat will be with Tadge Juechter. Tadge is the Vehicle Chief Engineer for the Corvette ZR1 and he is excited to be taking your questions today. Today is the first in a series of chats around the ZR1 and will focus on the name and history behind the car. To see the ZR1 hit 205 mph at the test track, check out Tadge’s blog at http://blog.gmnext.com/?p=133. We’ll get started right at 3 p.m. EST.

Vince Muniga – GM:
O.K., let’s get started with the first question

CorvetteBlogger:
What’s the target production for 2009?

Tadge Juechter:
Hello Corvette fans!

Tadge Juechter:
Production will start this summer and we can produce approximately 2000 ZR1s per year for the world.

CDINGERS:
Tadge – Great Presentation at the C5 – C6 Bash. Is there any way to post a copy of the presentations?

Tadge Juechter:
We are not posting those presentations at this time. However, many of the slides were photographed and posted by others.

RobertNH:
Tadge, can you tell us what the expected fuel mileage will be for the ZR1 and whether or not it will be subject to a gas guzzler tax?

Tadge Juechter:
We have not run our fuel economy testing yet. It will be somewhat less than a Z06 and we expect a small gas guzzler tax. However, the ZR1 will be the most fuel efficient 600 hp car you can buy in the world.

CDINGERS:
What changes to the ZR1 LS3 block will carry over to the production LS3? Oil Squirters, 11mm head bolts, etc.

Tadge Juechter:
The block structural improvements and the improvement in bay to bay breathing will be included in LS3 blocks for 2009.

RobertNH:
How is the overall vision of the C6 ZR1 different from the overall vision of the C4 ZR1?

Tadge Juechter:
The reason we named this model the ZR1 is because this version is virtually the same as the C4 ZR1. Both ZR1s introduced new engine technology to the Corvette while the C4 ZR1 was the first multi-valve engine in a Corvette and the C6 ZR1 is the first super-charged engine in a Corvette. Also, philosophically, both cars represent the top of the Corvette line. In other words, the ultimate Corvette. Max performance both on the track and on the street and fully contented.

RobertNH:
Any plans to take on the World Speed Endurance Record like the 1990 ZR-1 did?

Tadge Juechter:
As you probably saw, we announced the top speed (2 way, 1 mile average) as 205 mph. The ZR1 has also been extremely durable in our testing, so the car certainly has the potential to take the World Speed Endurance Record. However, we are currently focused on a perfect launch and getting the ZR1 into production. We will talk about record attempts later.

CorvetteBlogger:
GM renewed the ZR1 trademark in late 2006. When was the decision made to call the “Blue Devil” the ZR1 and were any of the names that showed up in the automotive press (ZL1, Z07, SS, Stringray) ever considered?

Tadge Juechter:
The ZR1 naming decision was finalized in September 2006. We considered a lot of alternatives, but once we settled on the ZR1 and saw the graphics and badges that design had come up with, we knew that it was the right direction to go.

CDINGERS:
Do you have an time line of when pricing, 1/4 mile times, results from the “loop” will be available?

Tadge Juechter:
We expect to announce pricing in May and all performance numbers will be run with production vehicles over the next two months.

RobertNH:
From an engineering standpoint, what was one of the most difficult aspects of the 2009 ZR1 to bring to production?

Tadge Juechter:
Managing underhood and underbody temperatures was the biggest challenge for the engineering team. Keeping the inlet air cool through the intercooler (a big contributor to power) was especially challenging.

CorvetteBlogger:
Did Pratt & Miller/Corvette Racing play any role in the development of the ZR1?

Tadge Juechter:
Yes. We used Pratt & Miller’s analytical capability extensively for optimization of aerodynamics and brake cooling.

CDINGERS:
When did the program / vision start? There was a comment at the bash about 6 years ago.

Tadge Juechter:
Concepts were talked about as early as June 2001.

CorvetteBlogger:
Tell us about the debate (if any) regarding the inclusion of the see-through hood panel? Was it strictly cosmetic or is there another purpose like fit?

Tadge Juechter:
The hood window is both an aesthetic and funtional feature. We minimized the clearance between the engine and the hood to maximize forward vision from the driver’s seat. This dictated a very close tolerance between engine and hood skin. Design helped make this need an aesthetic “win” also by covering the intercooler with the transparent panel. You can see the engine move under the hood and since we have only a thin pane of polycarbonate, the hood surface is very low.

CDINGERS:
Will the ZR1 go forward as a C7 as the Z06 did?

Tadge Juechter:
It is too early to say anything about C7. When we get to C7, of course we will consider a ZR1 model.

CorvetteBlogger:
When building a car like the ZR1, how much input comes from customers during the development period?

Tadge Juechter:
Our team attends a lot of Corvette events as well as monitoring Corvette forums and anytime we ask Corvette enthusiasts what they’d like to see in a new Corvette, the number one answer is more horsepower. Many of us on the Corvette team are also Corvette owners and enthusiasts.

CDINGERS:
How much total weight was saved by the use of carbon fiber?

Tadge Juechter:
The visible carbon fiber roof panels saved 6.6 pounds. The ZR1 hood weighs 7.5 pounds less than the Z06 hood. We concentrated lightweight materials in the front and height of the vehicle to lower the center of gravity and improve weight distribution.

RobertNH:
Is there a particular engineering feature, or aspect, that you and/or Corvette Engineering were hoping to see go into production on the 2009 ZR1, but due to cost or timing constraints was not possible?

Tadge Juechter:
No, we are very happy with the final production execution of the ZR1. Actually, our final power numbers exceeded our original projections.

CorvetteBlogger:
Will we see ZR1 specific options be made available for the Z06 ie carbon ceramic brakes and michelin tires?

Tadge Juechter:
There are no plans at this time.

CDINGERS:
How much additional downforce is generated by the ZR1 wings over the current Z06

Tadge Juechter:
ZR1 aerodynamic features add approximately 30 percent more downforce in the front and 45 percent more on the rear.

RobertNH:
Why was the decision made to go with Michelin rather than Goodyear for OEM tires?

Tadge Juechter:
We always pick the supplier that can produce the best product. Both Michelin and Goodyear submitted excellent proposals. However, Michelin’s was superior.

Tadge Juechter:
To go back to an earlier question on mass savings, the ceramic brakes saved 2 kilograms per corner over the Z06 and five kilograms per corner versus a similar capability iron brake system.

RobertNH:
There’s been a lot of misconception in the press about the cost of the product used in the carbon fiber clear coat. I understand that a very small percentage of this product is used in the clearcoat. How much of this product is used per car and can you say exactly what the product is that prevents UV degradation of the carbon fiber?

Tadge Juechter:
The protective material is proprietary to General Motors. It was developed to protect circuit boards from environmental corrosion. It is mixed in a three percent solution into the clear coat. The material itself does cost $60,000 per gallon. The resulting clear coat mixture costs $2,000 per gallon. Approximately one half gallon of the clear coat is applied to the carbon fiber panels on each car.

CorvetteBlogger:
Was there a specific competitor’s model that was used as a benchmark against the ZR1 during development?

Tadge Juechter:
No specific competitor’s vehicle was targeted. Instead, we continued the evolution of the car to its most extreme capability. And thanks to input from a lot of you customers, we think we’ve built the car of your dreams.

RobertNH:
What are differences between the MSRC system on the ZR1 and the MSRC system on the base model and will the changes or refinements seen on the ZR1′s system trickle down to the base model?

Tadge Juechter:
The second generation MSRC dampers were introduced last year for the 2008 model year. They are specifically tuned this year for ZR1 duty along with the springs and the largest stabilizer bars ever put on a C6.

CDINGERS:
In the painting process is the new carbon fiber clear coat applied to the entire car or just the carbon fiber parts?

Tadge Juechter:
Just the visible carbon fiber parts.

RobertNH:
Will GM Service Technicians need to undergo any special training to service the ZR1 and will special tools need to be used to conduct engine work like they were for the LT5 engine?

Tadge Juechter:
Yes. Like the Z06, the ZR1 has enough specialized content that some additional training will be required. It will not be nearly as complicated as the C4 ZR1 or the C4 LT5.

CorvetteBlogger:
What were your thoughts when you saw the first production ZR1 sell for $1 million at Barrett-Jackson in January?

Tadge Juechter:
H-o-l-y #$%@! haha

Tadge Juechter:
You all may be interested in other 2009 product enhancements such as variable ratio steering, and Bosch brake apply hardware for all Corvette models.

RobertNH:
When the 2009 ZR1 was originally conceptualized, was there a target market that GM had in sight, for example, Ferrari/Porsche owners, etc?

Tadge Juechter:
The Z06 showed that we could compete with much more expensive models from the other makers. The ZR1 raises the bar even higher.

CDINGERS:
Tell us more about the Boach Brakes for 2009

Tadge Juechter:
All Corvette models will be getting Bosch-produced brake master cylinder, booster and ABS module. These parts replace Delphi sourced material from prior years. All models get refined calibration of ABS traction control and stability systems for 2009. We are showing improvements in all areas including stopping distance.

RobertNH:
Due to the immense power of the ZR1 and the need to try and keep it planted, was an all-wheel drive system ever considered during the development phase of the car?

Tadge Juechter:
No, all-wheel drive would have added too much mass. I believe we are the lightest 600 hp car you can buy. We focus on power-to-weight ratio and maximizing traction in a real-wheel drive configuration.

lt5405:
Will Chevrolet intervene in Dealer price gouging?

Tadge Juechter:
We’re strongly encouraging dealers to charge MSRP.

RobertNH:
Well, I think I’m actually out of questions. Thank you Tadge for taking the time to chat with us and provide the information you did. The 2009 ZR1 is fantastic and I’m hoping that someday I can park one next to my 1990! Keep up the great work!

Tadge Juechter:
Thanks for your questions. I hope you get that ZR1, too. We think it will exceed your expectations.

Vince Muniga – GM:
Thank you for joining Tadge on today’s chat and all the great questions. We’re sorry we couldn’t get to all your questions and we’ll certainly try to answer the questions in further chats. If you’d like a transcript of today’s chat, it will be posted on GMnext.com later this week. For a complete look at the ZR1 including photo, videos and the history of America’s favorite supercar, visit www.ZR1.gmnext.com. You can also text ZR1 to 466398 for exclusive ZR1 news and information delivered directly to your cell phone. Thanks again!

CorvetteBlogger:
Awesome job on the ZR1. Please let everyone know in the project that their efforts are appreciated.

Tadge Juechter:
Thanks for joining us!


Source:
GMNext.com

Related:
[VIDEO] GM Releases Official Corvette ZR1 Specs: 638 hp and 205 mph
[VIDEO] Interview with Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter

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