Ford GT to use lightweight ‘Gorilla Glass’ windshield

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co.’s 2017 GT supercar will feature the lightest, most durable windshield glass yet on an automobile.

The Dearborn automaker on Tuesday said it will debut on the GT an industry-first “Gorilla Glass” hybrid windshield developed with partner Corning Inc. It is 12 pounds lighter than a traditional windshield — a 30 percent weight savings — and is scratch-resistant.

The glass is about 25-50 percent thinner than conventional panels, but is much tougher. It will be used on the GT’s windshield, rear engine cover and bulkhead, which separates the cabin from the engine cover. Ford hopes to add the glass soon on mainstream vehicles to help improve fuel efficiency and reduce break-ins and damage in accidents.

“We believe lightweight, tough, optically advantaged Gorilla Glass for Automotive is a game-changer for the industry,” Wendell P. Weeks, CEO of Corning, said in a statement.

Gorilla Glass has been used for years in smartphones. The BMW i8 uses a single-layer version of the glass, but this is the first automotive application that uses the three-layer version.

The new glass uses three-layer approach with panes of toughened hybrid, a noise-absorbing thermoplastic interlayer and annealed glass. When shot at close range with golfball-size hail at 55 miles an hour, the Gorilla Glass doesn’t break, while traditional glass does.

The glass underwent about four months of grueling rollover and impact tests. Ford officials said that while the glass is much less likely to break in the event of a crash, it complies with all safety requirements. Rescue teams will be able to get into cars if they have to.

The 2017 Ford GT, unveiled at last year’s North American International Auto Show, is meant to be a testbed of Ford’s latest technology. Engineers and designers spent 14 months crafting Ford’s halo car inside a secret room in the corner of the automaker’s Dearborn Product Development Center. It uses carbon fiber, aluminum and other materials to help reduce weight.

The car includes more than 50 sensors that generate 100 gigabytes of data per hour and feed 28 microprocessors which control everything from tire pressure to door latches. The GT has more than 10 million lines of computer code, about 8 million more than an F-22 fighter jet, Ford has said.

It’s powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost — the same engine that debuted on Ford’s Taurus SHO and is in the 2015 F-150 pickup. But the GT engine includes custom pistons, rods, turbos and cams that will help it get more than 600 horsepower.

The GT will be available in late 2016, and Ford will limit production to 250 a year. Ford has said it will be priced competitively with the Lamborghini Aventador, which starts at around $400,000.

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