GM Files Interesting New Aerodynamic Patents

Today’s automakers know they have to continually develop new technologies for cars to remain competitive in the market and appeal to consumers. And, it’s common for rumors to circulate before official press releases come out. A recent General Motors development has GM fans buzzing about what they believe could be new aerodynamic technology on the Chevrolet Corvette.

More specifically, these potential developments relate to the C8 Corvette, a rumored high-performance, mid-engine model made with in-house technology instead of parts sourced from external suppliers. News of features for the C8 Corvette broke thanks to the leak of two patents.

The Appearance of the New Technology

The first aerodynamic patent details external parts of a possible aerodynamic system. The title of the patent is Aerodynamic Actuator Control Systems and Methods. An accompanying graphic gives more clues about what the technology could look like. It shows aerodynamic pieces with actuators on the corners of the vehicle, plus the rear spoiler. Moreover, the hood appears to have raised louvers.

How Does It Work?

How the aerodynamic system works is more technical, but it’s spelled out in the patent’s abstract summary.

It mentions that the system can figure out the utilization force on the car’s tire, and the maximum force applied by the tire to maintain traction on the road. Then, a different model gauges the differences between those two factors and adjusts the car’s actuators accordingly.

What’s Known About the Second Patent


The second patent shows one of the first instances of a mid-engine vehicle drawing in such a document. It features the engine and transmission in the rear of the vehicle and the aerodynamics systems at the front. Plus, an assortment of sensors receives driver inputs about things including the angle of the steering wheel and the brake pedal position.

An active aerodynamics controller will take data collected about the driver and vehicle from sensors, then adjust the amount of downforce. The results could promote better vehicle handling or make the car speedier on a racetrack.

People have suspected the C8 Corvette would have front wheels aided by electric motors, and the patent seems to add fuel to that rumor’s fire. A diagram of the C8’s controller shows that it works with a hybrid drivetrain.

Then, in case those reading the patent’s information still had doubts, the description of the patent says that this technology works on a car with “zero or multiple” electric motors. That specific may seem unnecessarily vague, but it does indicate the potential to use on an automobile with those components.

People May Have a While to Wait

The patent filing for the aero technologies described above happened in May 2016 but only leaked to the public over two years later. Considering the amount of time the technology has been on the minds of the GM team and the fact that people only have patent diagrams to study means auto enthusiasts should anticipate exercising patience before seeing the real-life tech.

It also bears mentioning that GM gave details of the first active aerodynamic technology on a Corvette C7 body. However, the strongly held belief among auto enthusiasts is that the technology will eventually become present on the C8, as well.

And, that way of thinking makes sense. Unless there are substantial and unforeseen problems with this aero technology that become apparent on the C7, it seems in GM’s best interests to make it available on a later model — namely the C8 — too.

An Interesting Non-Aero Corvette Development

A look at the headlines highlights another interesting patent filing for the Corvette that’s not related to aerodynamics. It’s a clutch-by-wire system that uses an electronic sensor to send a signal to an electronic slave cylinder in the transmission. Analysts say it would eliminate the hydraulics currently needed for clutches, plus allow the car’s computer system to control clutch engagement or disengagement.

Exciting Things Ahead for Corvette Enthusiasts

These aerodynamic patent filings prove Corvette lovers have a lot to get excited about regarding the vehicles. It’s anyone’s guess when the technologies might start appearing in cars to buy, but that unknown factor doesn’t overpower the curiosities they spark.

About the author

Scott Huntington

Scott Huntington writes about cars all over the internet, but muscle cars are his one true love.
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