Only a few years ago, Chevrolet presented the first mid-engine version of its venerable all-American Corvette. After more than six decades of whispers and rumours, the mid-engined Vette was finally a reality and from the ground up for the 2020 model year. This eighth generation Corvette (commonly called the C8) was touted as the fastest in history, taking advantage of better weight distribution and improved throttle response.
Now Chevy has done it again, launching a new sports car on January 17th that is shaking up the market. The 2024 Corvette E-Ray is electrified for the first time in car history, bringing General Motors closer to its electrification goals.
That’s how we came here.
Seven decades of power
General Motors made hearts beat faster in 2015 when it filed for a patent on the E-Ray name. Eight years later, the hybrid sports car is finally a reality. In fact, the E-Ray was launched exactly 70 years to the day after the first Corvette prototype debuted at Motorama in New York City on January 17, 1953. Every single one of the first Corvettes batches was white with a red interior that was only available with a convertible top.
While the Corvette is best known for its roaring V8, the first Vette was built on a modified passenger car chassis and was powered by a 3.9-litre straight-six engine dubbed the “Blue Flame”. In 1955, Chevy upped the ante with a 195-horsepower, 4.3-liter V8 mated to a three-speed manual transmission.
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In 1966, the Corvette was the first to receive the 427 cubic-inch engine, one of several powertrain options that included a 327-cubic-inch, 300-horsepower small-block engine along with the larger 427, available in 350, 390, and 425 hp versions. With stats like these, it’s no surprise that the Corvette’s appeal has grown over the decades with everyone from early astronauts like Alan Shepard to President Joe Biden counted as fans.
In 2019, the final year of the front-engine Corvette, the car was available with a 455 and 460 hp naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8. The Z06 came with a supercharged version with 650 horsepower and the even beefier ZR1 was good for 755 horsepower and 715 pound-feet of torque.
The forthcoming E-Ray combines the 6.2-liter V8 from the mid-engined 2022 gas-powered model (named the Stingray, a term used in the Corvette family since the 1960s) with an electric motor for a total output of 655 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque. This combination gives the E-Ray all-wheel drive, and the brand says the E-Ray is the fastest production Corvette in history, with an impressive 2.5 seconds from zero to 60 mph.
The E-Ray is a heavyweight
This very first Corvette weighed less than 2,900 pounds. Chevy’s sports car has steadily gained weight over the decades, tipping the scales at approximately 3,600 pounds in 2020. Electrified powertrains like the one in the E-Ray are heavier than pure gas engines and require revised calculations for everything from the frame to the axles to the wheels and tires.
According to Chevrolet, the coupe version of the E-Ray will weigh 3,980 pounds, and the convertible adds 76 pounds for a total of 4,056 pounds. That’s a heavyweight sports car compared to McLaren’s plug-in hybrid Artura at 3,303 pounds. It’s still lighter (and exponentially cheaper) than the ultra-exclusive $2 million all-electric Rimac Nevera, which weighs 4,750 pounds.
[Related: Strapping into the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray to take turns at 1.3 Gs]
With a starting price of around $60,000, the redesigned 2020 mid-engined Stingray was a shockingly affordable American stunner. However, the E-Ray starts at a whopping $104,295 and ends at $120,000 or more with options.
While perhaps not destined to be as affordable to the masses as the petrol-only Stingray, it still easily outperforms rivals like McLaren’s Artura and Ferrari’s 296 GTB in price. Also, the E-Ray doesn’t require a plug like the McLaren and Ferrari; The E-Ray’s small 1.9-kilowatt battery regenerates energy when the car slows down and brakes. Unlike an all-electric vehicle, the hybrid e-ray relies heavily on the gas-powered engine and uses the battery to increase torque and save fuel.
stealth mode and more
The E-Ray will also have a lower and wider stance; It’s 3.6 inches wider overall than the Stingray and offers a little more elbowroom. In addition, the technology of the new electric motor will influence the sound of this legendary vehicle.
Believe it or not, the delightful roar of a V8 isn’t music to everyone’s ears. In hybrid mode, the Corvette retains its distinctive growl. However, those who prefer a less obtrusive neighborhood approach will appreciate the Stealth mode, a quiet all-electric driving mode that operates up to 45 mph (let’s hope this doesn’t surprise pedestrians).
Electric vehicles are inherently quiet, but automakers like Ford have found ways to make gas-powered vehicles quieter too. You may remember the debut of Ford’s “Good Neighbor Mode” on the 2018 Mustang, which muted the muscle car’s voice by adjusting the active exhaust function.
As the US continues to explore new ways to strengthen EV infrastructure in terms of charging stations and alternative energy, the E-Ray is perfectly timed. While this iteration will never need charging as it’s a hybrid, we’re expecting an all-electric version next.
In the meantime, expect the 2024 Corvette E-Ray to go on sale later this year.