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2014 Corvette Uses Shape Memory “Smart Material”

by Shane McGlaun
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On your typical automobile if the vehicle has a door or flap that needs to be opened automatically, it requires little motors and other components to operate. Chevrolet has announced that the 2014 Corvette is the first General Motors automobile to use a lightweight “smart material” that is able to replace heavier motorized parts. The smart material in this case is a shape memory alloy wire that is used to open a vent to make closing the trunk lid easier.

corvette_smart_material

The shape memory alloy wire opens the hatch when the deck lid is opened using heat created from an electrical current in a method similar to how truck lights are activated. When electrical current flows through the wire, it changes shape activating a lever that opens the vent. When the current is removed, the wire cools and the vent closes.

This particular vent on the new Corvette is used to allow air to escape when the trunk lid is closed making it easier to close than previous Corvette models. General Motors says that there about 200 motorized movable parts in the typical vehicle that could eventually be replaced with these shape memory alloys. These high-tech materials could ultimately help reduce the weight of vehicles and improve fuel economy.

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