Two new GM patents demonstrate that the automaker is serious about building a new mid-engine sports car from the ground up, and doing so with technology developed in-house as opposed to relying on off-the-shelf components from the parts bin or from other suppliers. These new patents not only detail further work in active aerodynamics, but they also hint at hybrid technologies that we’ve been hearing about.
The first patent is titled Aerodynamic Actuator Control Systems and Methods and the graphic shows aero pieces with actuators on each corner of the car as well as the rear spoiler and what looks to be raised louvers on the hood. The abstract summary details how the system determines a utilization force on the tire and then the maximum force of the tire for maintaining traction betweeen the tire and the road surface. Another module analyzes the differences between the two and selectively adjusts the aerodynamic actuators based on that difference.
What has everyone really excited is that the controller diagram that shows integration with a hybrid drivetrain. The rumored high-performance C8 Corvette would have electric motors on the front wheels. The patent’s description goes even further to say that it can work with a drivetrain that has “zero or multiple” electric motors. Once again the automaker details the active aero on a C7 body, but we all know this technology will somehow make its way to the C8 Mid-Engine Corvette currently being tested.
The second patent, Vehicle, System and Method for Controlling Active Aerodynamic Elements details how the active aerodynamics controller will receive data from the driver and vehicle and react accordingly to provide the appropriate amount of downforce. The patent details benefits of the system in several ways including “improved handling of the vehicle can be used by the driver to improve, i.e., lower, racetrack lap times.”
The main drawing provided in the document is one of the first times we’ve seen a mid-engine vehicle in a patent publication from GM. The patent’s drawing notes that both the engine (140) and the transmission (106) are in the back of the vehicle. The front and rear (140) shows the active aerodynamics and then the various sensors and inputs from the driver that includes steering wheel angle, throttle, and brake pedal position.
We think of active aerodynamics as a system that adjusts and trims the car for enhanced handling and controllability, but the system is also described as being able to improve cooling as well as assist with braking.
As we’ve seen several versions of active aero patents, it will be interesting to see how they come together on the C8 Mid-Engine Corvette as well as how much such a system will cost. Because of the some of the differences between the different active aero patents, it’s also possible that Cadillac is developing its own technologies for its rumored mid-engine car.
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