VIDEO: 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Build Process
Chevrolet has released a video animation of its new Corvette Stingray being assembled starting with the frame and ending with the body panels.
The 2014 Corvette Stingray shares only two parts with the previous-generation Corvette. It incorporates an all-new frame structure and chassis, a new powertrain and supporting technologies and a completely new exterior and interior designs.
The car is built at GM’s Bowling Green, Kentucky, assembly plant, which underwent a $131-million upgrade, including approximately $52 million for a new body shop to manufacture the aluminium frame in-house for the first time.
The all-new aluminium frame structure is 45 kg (99 pounds) lighter, and is 57-percent stiffer than the previous-generation convertible. The result is a frame that is so strong, no structural reinforcements are needed for the convertible model claims Chevrolet. The only changes are limited to accommodations for the folding top and repositioned safety belt mounts.
Compared to the previous generation, which used continuous hydroformed main frame rails with a constant 2mm wall thickness, the new Corvette’s frame features main rails composed of five customised aluminum segments, including aluminium extrusions at each end, a centre main rail section and hollow-cast nodes at the suspension interface points. Each segment’s gauge varies in thickness from 2mm to 11mm, tailored – along with the shape – by the simulation software to optimise the strength requirements for each frame section with minimal weight.
The Bowling Green facility employs several joining technologies to grant dimensional accuracy within 0.75 mm. Each frame features:
• 354 spot-welds using a GM-patented process that uses an electrode designed specifically for aluminium
• 188 Flowdrill-machined fasteners, which are installed by a high-speed drill that extrudes the frame material to create a strong, integral collar that is tapped for bolt-on fasteners
• 113 feet of structural adhesives, used in conjunction with welding and fasteners to increase overall frame stiffness
• 37 feet of laser welds, which join frame sections via a beam of high energy that minimises heat beyond the weld area for improved structural accuracy.
The frame’s greater strength and lower weight are complemented by chassis elements also designed for low-mass strength, including hollow-cast aluminium front and rear cradles that are approximately 25-percent lighter and 20-percent stiffer than the solid cradles used on the previous structure.
The innovative use of materials includes a standard carbon fibre hood on all Corvette Stingray models, and carbon fibre roof panel on all coupes. In addition, underbody panels are created with carbon-nano composite technology, a blend of traditional composite material and carbon fibre for reduced weight and improved strength. Fenders, doors, rear quarter panels and the rear hatch panel are made with lighter-density Sheet moulded compound (SMC) than the previous generation.