It’s been my belief that if the Corvette team is working on adaptive aerodynamics or active aero, that it’s most likely a feature destined for the mid-engine Corvette which is expected sometime in 2019. But these new engineering drawings from a GM patent application in May 2016 suggest that we may be seeing Adaptive Aerodynamics on the C7 2018 Corvette ZR1.
Again, I have to give props to Car and Driver writer Don Sherman for his excellent reporting on the development on the next Corvettes. Don first mentioned Adaptive Aerodynamics in August 2016 where he said the following:
“The Corvette development group is in the midst of choosing between hydraulic and pneumatic actuators for an adjustable rear wing intended for production. Will adaptive aerodynamics provide a dramatic statement for the ZR1, or is this research for the mid-engine C8 generation that begins in 2019? That we can’t say with certainty. But, given the flood of photos coming from high above Milford as evidence that development is proceeding apace, the answer could surface soon.”
The patent application for Adaptive Aerodynamics was filed on May 24, 2016 and is described as “vehicle ride-height determination for control of vehicle aeordynamics”. The patent application was published on March 23, 2017.
The application appears to detail an adjustable spoiler, air dam, front splitter, rear diffuser and shutter. These aerodynamic parts would be controlled by a computer that could make minute adjustments to the various angles to either increase downforce or trim aerodynamics for speed based on the ride height of the Corvette.
The description of Adaptive Aerodynamics from the patent application:
A system is configured to control aerodynamics of a vehicle. The vehicle includes a vehicle body having a front end facing an ambient airflow when the vehicle is in motion relative to a road surface. The system includes an adjustable aerodynamic-aid element mounted to the vehicle body. The system also includes a mechanism configured to vary a position of the adjustable aerodynamic-aid element relative to the vehicle body and thereby control movement of the airflow. The system additionally includes a sensor configured to detect a height of the vehicle body relative to a predetermined reference frame and a controller configured to receive a signal from the sensor indicative of the detected vehicle body height. The controller is also configured to determine a ride-height of the vehicle using the detected vehicle body height and to regulate the mechanism in response to the determined ride-height to control aerodynamics of the vehicle.
Additional images from the patent application:
Although the documents show a C7 Corvette, they could be for illustration only with active aero making its debut on the mid-engine Corvette. However, the fact that the 2018 Corvette ZR1 protoypes we’ve seen are wearing two different sizes of rear wings, its possible that we could be looking at the next hard-core iteration of the C7 Corvette and one with advanced aero features like those seen on sports car that cost three and four times as much.