• Oct 28th 2010 at 3:01PM
  • 27
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 carbon fiber 'sunscreen' – click above to watch the video

Corvette engineers working on their own time have come up with a protective coat for the ZR1's carbon fiber weave. The sun's UV rays normally work their destructive magic on carbon weave, so Mark Voss, the ZR1's senior design engineer got together with his after-hours team to come up with a coating that would fulfill Chevrolet customer demands. Check out the process itself in the video and presser after the jump.

[Source: General Motors]

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Corvette Engineers Create High-tech Auto Sunscreen
Former drag racer defies 'crazy' and makes hot new exterior on Corvette

WARREN, Mich., Oct. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- In an effort to produce lighter, more fuel-efficient and better handling models, Chevrolet Corvette features advanced materials such as carbon fiber.

Until now, exposed-weave carbon fiber, one of the coolest looks for fast, hot cars, was unavailable to consumers because the sun degrades the material on the exterior surface.

In fact, experts thought putting exposed carbon fiber on the outside of any retail car was nearly impossible. Painting over the carbon fiber was the only option. All that has changed due to an industry-first technology breakthrough: "sunscreen" for the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1.

"Everyone said it couldn't be done, and we were crazy for trying," said Mark Voss, senior design engineer for the ZR1.

Undaunted, Voss and his team worked for three years on their own time to develop a glossy, UV-resistant clear coat that allows exposed carbon fiber to be used on the body of the car. It also shields the carbon fiber components from chips and scratches.

"Our challenge was finding a way to give our customers exposed-weave carbon fiber with the durability they have come to expect from a Corvette," Voss said. "Other automakers have opted for fake attempts at a carbon-fiber look. With the Corvette ZR1, we wanted to give customers the real deal."

Carbon fiber on the Corvette emerged from the technology transfer between the production Corvette and the Corvette C6.R that race in the American Le Mans Series. Carbon fiber reduces weight and improves stiffness compared to steel. Carbon fiber is approximately one-fifth the weight of steel and one-third the mass of traditional composite panels. That means a lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicle with a lower center of gravity for better handling on the road and on the race track.

For a consumer vehicle, exposed-weave carbon fiber, with its honeycombed appearance, offers the fuel efficiency of painted carbon fiber, but has a unique aesthetic.

The ZR1 features exposed-weave carbon fiber on the roof panel, roof bow, rocker moldings, front fascia splitter, and the underside of the hood. The ZR1 has carbon fiber floor panels as well, although not in the exposed-weave format. For the Corvette Z06, carbon fiber fenders and floor panels come standard with an optional package that includes splitters, rockers and roof panels.

Voss, a former drag racer, confirmed car nut, and incessant tinkerer says his passion for all things automotive fuels his imagination. "When I'm not at work with my Chevrolet colleagues developing new technologies, I'm at home working on one of my cars in the pole barn," he said.

Voss' "pole barn" is just one hoist shy of being a full-blown automotive shop. The heated and furnished 1,800-square-foot outbuilding includes car tech essentials such as a metal fabrication station. He has owned more than 50 cars in his lifetime; his current classic favorites being a 1979 Corvette and 1972 Chevrolet Blazer.

About Chevrolet
Chevrolet is a global automotive brand, with annual sales of about 3.5 million vehicles in more than 130 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. In the U.S., the Chevrolet portfolio includes: iconic performance cars, such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long lasting pickups and SUVs, such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers, such as Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers "gas-friendly" solutions, such as the upcoming 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco model that is expected to deliver up to an estimated 40 mpg highway, and 2011 Chevrolet Volt that will offer 25-50 miles of electric driving and an additional 310 miles of extended range with the onboard generator (based on GM testing). Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security, and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response, and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models, fuel solutions, and OnStar availability can be found at www.chevrolet.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I saw a 2005 Audi today in the grocery parking lot, and the top of the trunk lid was faded and chipping in a large area. Are they having paint problems at Audi?
      • 4 Years Ago
      wouldn't it just be cheaper and just as effective to wrap it in vinyl that looks like carbon fiber?

        • 4 Years Ago
        Please stick to your altezza-tailed compact and stay away from real cars like the ZR1.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Right...just like having a speaker under the hood of your car that makes a wooshing sound is cheaper and just as effective as adding a turbocharger. You weren't serious, were you?
      • 4 Years Ago
      UV rays degrade carbon fiber? Get this stuff to Koenigsegg, STAT or all that will be left is the wheels!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I found the video much more interesting learning about Mark Voss. Yeah, and how about we all get together after work, have a few beers and come up with some cool stuff over at my place...how cool that would be. Senior design engineer at GM. Rock on, dude, rock on...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Cool tech, but paint it body colored and call it a day, having mismatched panels even if they are carbon is so 1999.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That should be a UV Clear Coat from BASF Refinish since they where 2009 Supplier of the year. BASF has been a leader in the technology for YEARS!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      you cant paint carbon fiber the solvent in the paint destroys the carbon fiber weave eventually also
      • 4 Years Ago
      I was not serious, and I don't have altezza's or a compact car.

      PS, I would never call the ZR1 a "real car"
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yeah, wasn't this on the ZR1 from day one? Also, are all other cars with "bare" carbon fiber at risk of having it break down? Hmmmm
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think you guys missed the point. The ZR1 has special EPOXY now that helps. That is way to expensive so GM engineers are creating a clear coat OVER the carbon to protect. This way, they don't have to pay out their behinds for the special epoxy and instead use general carbon fiber exposy and buy a fraction of clear coat to cover it. In the end same performance for the fraction of the price.

      Awesome job GM, doing something the $1M car gurus can't..... instead they just use the wealthy. Can't blame them.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Good point.

        But I thought that although epoxy resin is itself 100% UV resistant, the UV can still affect the carbon fiber within the resin.
      • 4 Years Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      First this is not news. Second it was not developed by Chevy engineers it's developed by the paint supplier. All hevy does is give them performance targets.
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