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Corvette's Innovation Seedling

After 10 years of research, Corvette is test-driving a "shape memory alloy" in its 2014 models. Shaped into a wire loop, the blend of nickel and titanium responds to heat and electricity and opens a vent in the car's trunk. But that's just the beginning...

[Image courtesy of Chevrolet]

In two years...

Shape memory alloys—which are more reliable, more compact, and cheaper than traditional material—will start to be used in place of the more than 200 motors in a modern vehicle.

In five years...

Given their ability to harvest heat as well as respond to it, shape memory alloys will start to show up in factories, where they'll be used to recycle energy lost during the manufacturing process.

In 10 years...

Vehicles with a critical mass of shape memory alloy will be somewhere in the tens of kilograms lighter than cars today, improving fuel economy and making for a more eco-friendly automobile.

A version of this article appeared in the February 2014 issue of Fast Company magazine.