A decade ago, could you envision a Corvette hybrid? Because you’re forgiven if that’s not the case. It was definitely hard to picture it with the C7 Corvette. Which was a heavily refreshed C6. Which was a heavily refreshed C5. But with the mid-engined C8 generation, there’s an incredible bandwidth of possibilities, as it’s an all-new, mid-engined platform. With a lot more space to accommodate things like batteries, motors, all while maintaining a V8 engine. And that’s happening. The much-talked about, much speculated C8 Corvette E-Ray is upon us: the first all-wheel-drive, electrified, hybrid Corvette. And we’ve got the scoop.
C8 Corvette E-Ray: What To Expect
The upcoming Corvette E-Ray hybrid will share a lot of visual similarities with the C8 Z06, in that it will share the same widened body style, and similar front fascia. However, it will differentiate itself from the Ferrari-fighting variant with unique wheels, and will not feature a center exhaust outlet in the rear, at all. The C8 Corvette hybrid will also refrain from seeing any Z07-esque performance upgrades, such as the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tire, or a high-downforce rear wing. Instead, the E-Ray will keep the Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 and Pilot Sport 4S tires found on Stingray. Being that this Corvette hybrid will share the same wide body as the Z06, the tires are substantially meatier, measuring 275/30R20 in front, and 345/25R21 in the rear.
It’s getting clearer that Chevrolet has set different targets for the C8 Corvette Z06 and its E-Ray counterpart. The Z06 is American pasta arrabbiata. An 8,000+ RPM flat plane, naturally aspirated V8 destined to burn as much fuel as an F-15 in pursuit of being the most powerful naturally aspirated eight-cylinder ever made. At sea level in mild weather, anyway. It’s bound to ravish road courses, and probably set a few lap records at some of them, but the same destiny isn’t shared for the C8 Corvette E-Ray. Its positioning appears to be more of a grand tourer; its hard-hitting nature wrapped up in a padded glove. Silent at low speeds where the Z06 is raspy, extremely competent at high speeds where the Z06 would bolt away in the bends, and wicked quick off the line where the 2WD Z06 would struggle more for grip. And, effectively, it replaces the Corvette Grand Sport as we’ve known it in the hierarchy.
The E-Ray will be sold in global markets, as it will be built in both LHD and RHD configurations, as seen with the Stingray. Folks from Japan, Australia, The UK and others all like this.
Also like the Stingray, the E-Ray will have a 6.2L LT2 V8 under the hood. This engine will continue to deliver 490-495 horsepower, but with the assistance of a small battery pack and motors, total output is expected to be closer to 650 horsepower.
As has been widely reported, the E-Ray will be the first C8 Corvette to incorporate all-wheel-drive into its design. Which makes sense as to why engineers have chosen to benchmark the vehicle next to the Acura NSX hybrid. Speaking of which, the Ohio-built supercar sold worldwide will be getting its sendoff year for 2022 with the NSX Type S, with output totaling 600 hp and priced from $171,495 USD. But by the time the E-Ray rolls out, the NSX will be pulled off the shelf. This certainly leaves the future Corvette in an interesting space, as there won’t really be a direct rival for sale as we know it, making the E-Ray a white space vehicle. A Porsche 911 hybrid is expected eventually, but the timeline is unclear at the moment.
V8 Hybrid Powertrain: More Exclusive Details
The C8 Corvette E-Ray will run a battery pack through the “spine” of the chassis, which is mostly hollow in the Stingray variant. That’s been previously reported, but here is what hasn’t: the drivetrain will incorporate a fully electronic front axle, which was described to us as an “e-booster”. The setup is expected to allow for low-speed zero-emissions driving, up to around 25-35 miles per hour, per sources. We’ve seen similar setups in a particular car: the 986 hp Ferrari S90 Stradale, priced from $625,000 USD.
No, the E-Ray isn’t going to directly compete with the Ferrari SF90 Stradale in power or price. We’ll leave that to the finale of the C8 lineage: the future Corvette Zora, which reportedly targets 1,000 horsepower, and also utilizes electrification with all-wheel-drive.
At the moment, it’s unclear if the C8 Corvette E-Ray will be a plug-in hybrid. While similar vehicles seem to utilize the utility of a charge port, we’re told the E-Ray will “regen to charge,” says one of our sources.
We suppose this style isn’t different from conventional hybrids, like the Prius. But these vehicles tend to have CVTs; the E-Ray Corvette hybrid will maintain its Tremec 8-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, as will the Z06, and variants beyond them. 0-60 times are far from finalized, but will all-wheel drive and instantaneous front wheel torque, we imagine this electrified Corvette is capable of bringing acceleration times closer to the 2.0-second mark, as the Stingray already broke the 3.0-second mark.
The E-Ray Is Out There
MC&T sources have confirmed that recent spy photos circulating have indeed captured C8 Corvette E-Ray prototypes. This means that the program has reached the IVER development phase, and prototypes have begun testing on public roads. The E-Ray is a special milestone for Corvette, as it’s the first hybrid variant in the nameplate’s near 70-year history. In fact, if things can relatively keep on track, this Corvette hybrid would likely debut on the 70th anniversary of the nameplate, in 2023. However, lost ground would have to be made up, as the C8 Corvette timeline continues to be altered due to COVID delays through the supply chain, and microchip supply shortages.