2016 Corvette Shaves 20 Pounds Thanks to New Body Panels by Continental Structural Plastics


2016 Corvette Shaves 20 Pounds Thanks to New Body Panels by Continental Structural Plastics

One thing about Corvettes: You can count on constant innovations and improvements to the car every year.

Just check out this announcement Tuesday by Continental Structural Plastics, a supplier of body panel materials for the 2016 Stingray.

By becoming the first production model to use the TCA® Ultra Lite™ material, the new Stingray coupe has shaved 20 pounds off its total weight.

A pretty impressive achievement considering the diet the seventh-generation model had already been on.

Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter is among those impressed.

“In materials engineering, shaving a single pound per car is a significant accomplishment, so saving 20 pounds per car is monumental,” he said. “This is a great example of how Chevrolet is continually looking for innovations that improve performance on Corvette, and could benefit possible future applications.”

The new process achieves the dramatic weight loss by using treated glass bubbles to replace some of the calcium carbonate filler. That adds up to a lot of weight savings since the material is used on 27 body panel assemblies on the C7, including doors, decklids, quarter panels and fenders.

“Through a joint continuous improvement effort, Chevrolet and CSP have significantly reduced the density of the Corvette body panels – from 1.9 specific gravity for the 2013 model year, to 1.6 specific gravity for the 2014 model year to 1.2 for the 2016 model year,” said Christopher Basela, Lead Engineer for Corvette Body Composites.

But weight savings isn’t the only plus gained by using TCA Ultra Lite.

The material also offers a premium Class A finish with paint and gloss qualities comparable to metals and passes all OEM paint tests. It’s also cheaper, especially for production volumes under 150,000 – like the Corvette. In fact, the company says tooling costs for composites can be as much as 50 to 70 percent lower than those for stamping steel or aluminum.

“We have been working closely with GM to launch this patented, weight-saving technology on the iconic Corvette, achieving this conversion with no changes in material thickness or tooling while maintaining the superior surface finish required for this premium vehicle,” said CSP Chairman and CEO Frank Macher. “With this successful launch, we can say TCA Ultra Lite is proven to offer several advantages over aluminum, and is truly the next generation of lightweighting technology for the automotive industry.”

Who knows, maybe the new material will be used on the widely rumored mid-engine Corvette in the next couple of years.

CSP Press Release

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