[Image above] The sleek new Ford GT. Credit: Ford
As if it wasn’t already sleek enough, the 2017 Ford GT is going on a high-tech diet.
The sleek supercar is shedding pounds as the first production vehicle to incorporate a windshield of thin-yet-strong Corning Gorilla Glass.
The GT will have a windshield, rear window, and rear engine cover made with Gorilla Glass. According to a Corning press release, this will save more than 12 pounds of vehicle weight, while nonetheless providing a windshield that is five times stronger than standard window glass.
The GT windshield has three layers, the interior of which is a specially designed automotive version of Gorilla Glass. The exterior layer is annealed soda lime glass, with a noise-absorbing thermoplastic interlayer in between.
The engine panel is made entirely of Gorilla Glass.
“The result is a windshield and rear engine cover approximately 32% lighter than competitive vehicles,” according to a Ford press release. “During development, we tried different glass variations before we found a combination that provided both weight savings and the durability needed for exterior automotive glass,” Paul Linden, Ford body exteriors engineer, continues in the release. “We learned, somewhat counterintuitively, that the strengthened interior layer of the windshield is key to the success of the hybrid window.”
The Gorilla Glass hybrid windshield is just 3–4 mm think—compared to the 4–6 mm thickness of traditional laminate—making it 25–50% thinner and ~30% lighter than traditional glass, according to a Ford press release.
“Plus, the glass is more robust due to advanced processes for contaminant reduction, chemical strengthening, unique edge treatment, and laminate construction,” according to the Ford release.
More robust indeed—Corning’s tests show that the glass holds up under assault with a hail gun, which shoots a sizeable ice ball at the glass at 55 mph. See for yourself in Associated Press video below.
Credit: Associated Press; YouTube
According to Corning, in addition to removing weight and adding strength, Gorilla Glass does not have the optical draw lines present in conventional float glass, “making it ideal for steep windshield applications like the GT.”
The new glass’s reduced weight will improve vehicle handling by lowering the center of gravity and will have a positive impact on acceleration, fuel economy, and braking performance, according to Ford.
According to the auto giant, Ford approached Corning to develop automotive applications of Gorilla Glass in response to vehicle lightweighting efforts.
“This collaboration demonstrates what Corning does best—applying our expertise in glass and materials science to help industry leaders solve tough challenges, unleash new capabilities, and enhance experiences for customers,” Wendell P. Weeks, Corning chairman and CEO, says in the Ford release.
Although Gorilla glass—stronger, thinner, lighter, better—seems like a no-brainer for auto applications, it doesn’t come cheap. According to the Associated Press story, it costs an extra $2–$4 per pound of saved weight in comparison to traditional glass.
And price isn’t all—there are other issues to consider before Gorilla Glass replaces all vehicle glass. According to the AP story, “Gorilla Glass doesn’t work everywhere. The side windows of the GT, for example, are made of tempered glass. Automakers tend to use tempered glass on side windows because it breaks into tiny pieces and doesn’t have a plastic layer that could hinder someone from exiting the vehicle in a crash. Doug Harshbarger, business director of Corning’s automotive glass business, says Corning is working on alternate ways of designing Gorilla Glass for use throughout the vehicle.”
The new 600-hp Ford GT supercar will begin production in late 2016 and will retail for about $400,000.