When General Motors revealed the hybrid Chevrolet Corvette E Ray, the most pressing question was… where is the pure electric variant? There isn’t going to be an all-electric Corvette because engineers cited performance concerns and opted instead for Hybrid power. The actual term engineers use to describe Hybrids is electrically assisted, kind of like a traditional turbo boost, but much more efficient and powerful. The mid-mounted naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 is joined by a front-mounted electric motor, and the combined power output surges from 495bhp to 646bhp. Thankfully Chevrolet engineers opted for a Hybrid powertrain and not plug-in hybrid. Meaning that energy recovery is reclaimed by regenerative braking and coasting.
However the battery pack is tiny, 1.9kWh tiny which means pure electric propulsion is limited to crawl speed and or up to 40mph for no more than 1 mile. But at least you don’t have to plug-in and recharge. Under certain driving conditions, such as motorway cruising, the Corvette’s hybrid powertrain is able to deactivate four of its eight cylinders to maximize efficiency.
Yes, the Corvette Hybrid has a classic supercar top speed and the hybrid system boosts the 0-62mph time to just 2.5 seconds, but why no pure electric version? For a start, the Corvette is built around a gasoline architecture. Retrofitting a new electric powertrain would have been a costly endeavor meaning re-developing from scratch.
Corvette did cite that the added weight of an EV architecture would have blunted performance, something they were not willing to sacrifice for the current generation model. The real takeaway here is that a hybrid system is much easier to integrate and less costly. In addition, the weight gains are insignificant compared to a full-fat electric variant.
The next-generation Corvette will surely make the giant leap to an all-electric powertrain unless somebody retrofits a Tesla powertrain. For now, the Corvette E Ray Hybrid is the most technically advanced Corvette to date.