Patent for ride height-dependent aero hints at a tech-heavy C8 Corvette

Pay no attention to the hard-braking C7 in these patent drawings: The air deflector tech it illustrates could appear on a future ‘Vette, another GM product … or no production vehicles at all.

The reveal of the Chevrolet C8 Corvette is less than a month away, and there’s a lot we still don’t know about the thing. But — in addition to scrutinizing spy photos and videos — there’s one time-tested way to glean additional information about a new car before its official reveal: Sift through patents for details on novel bits of tech that just might be bound for the model. (And you never know what other wacky stuff you’re going to find along the way.)

The most recent patent, discovered by a Midengine Corvette Forum member, outlines a system for a vehicle ride height-dependent air deflector system. Don’t be fooled by the C7 Corvette in the illustrations: The illustrator could have used a Vega, so long as the figures got the function of the new invention across.

Note that this comes in addition to another patent for an adjustable front splitter system; there could potentially be a lot going on in the nose of the C8.

From the patent’s abstract: “… The system includes an air deflector moveably mounted to the vehicle body. The system also includes a mechanism configured to selectively vary a height of the deflector relative to the road surface and a position of the defector relative to the vehicle body.”

The key seems to be that (again, from the abstract) “the controller is further configured to regulate the mechanism to select the target height of the deflector relative to the road surface to thereby control the aerodynamics of the vehicle.” Ultrasonic sensors or lasers, the patent suggests, could be used to read ride height, the idea being that whether you were braking hard, diving into a corner or laying into the accelerator, the front air deflector would always be optimally positioned (or at least lifted out of the way to avoid scraping) no matter how the body moves.

A close-up of the illustration up top. The nose of the Corvette is pitching downward, and the air deflector (labeled “46”) has moved from a more vertical to a horizontal orientation.

There’s a long list of potential C8-related patents out there, with more to be discovered; we’ve mentioned a few, but there’s a handy compilation post at the Midengine Corvette Forum.

As always, it’s worth remembering that patents are filed to protect an idea first and foremost, not to signal what an automaker is planning on bringing to production in the near future — or ever. So maybe don’t hold your breath for the funky hybrid spoiler wing, at least not at the outset of C8 production.

But what we can say with confidence is that, on the balance, the flood of C8-adjacent patents points to a car that will be very different than what comes before it in ways both blindingly obvious (layout) and more subtle (an increased use of complex technological systems to eke out maximum performance).

If we were a ‘Vette purist, the addition of complicated, weight-adding extras like active aero would be more of a potential cause for concern than an engine that’s been moved behind the driver. On the other hand, there’s the argument that the front-engine formula that has defined the Corvette since its inception only lasted as long as it did because Chevrolet engineers embraced once-exotic and borderline unpronounceable technology like the magnetorheological damper-equipped adaptive suspension. Not all technology needs to be feared …

It’s a big risk to change a car so beloved so dramatically, but the payoff — if Chevy pulls it off — could be huge. We won’t have to wait too much longer to see how it all works out, at least on paper: The reveal is on July 18.

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