General Motors Trademarks "Corvette E-Ray"
Rumors about a hybrid C7-generation Corvette first surfaced only months after GM unveiled the sports car, but Chevy denied such a model, arguing that the current platform can’t be fitted with an electric motor and a battery. However, the hybrid Corvette resurfaced with the Zora, a mid-engined version of the ’Vette that will reportedly arrive alongside the C8-generation car. Now, it’s being reported that The General filed a trademark for the "Corvette E-Ray" name, which pretty much confirms that the iconic sports car will get a hybrid drivetrain.
Obviously, there’s no info as to when that might happen. Likewise, there are no hints as to whether Chevy wants to electrify the current C7 or wait until the C8-gen model arrives.
According to Car and Driver technical director and Corvette guru Don Sherman, GM could hybridize the C7 by "hanging a motor/generator onto the rear of the differential," while also adding a compact lithium-ion battery at the rear. To do that, GM would have to make major revisions to the exhaust system, as well as sacrifice some of the Vette’s 15 cubic feet of cargo space.
Granted, that’s an interesting and doable solution for the C7’s platform, but GM might have different plans, especially if the modifications needed to make room for the motor and battery would require a major investment. Chevy could also launch the Corvette E-Ray as a separate model on different underpinnings or simply design the next-gen model on a platform that will also support a hybrid drivetrain.
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Why it matters
Some of you are probably already dreaming about a Corvette that’s quick and powerful, while returning around 40 mpg, but the E-Ray isn’t likely to arrive very soon. 2016 is definitely out of the question and 2017 might also be too early given full-scale development likely hasn’t started yet, but the Corvette E-Ray will probably be here by the end of the decade. And, there are many reasons I believe that. First, the Corvette already has a hybrid competitor here in the U.S. in the form of the BMW i8. Also, both Nissan and Porsche are already working on hybrid versions of the GT-R and 911. If Chevy doesn’t want to fall behind, the E-Ray should at least be on the drawing board in 2016. Second, GM needs to lower brand emissions further over the next few years, and building low-volume EVs and small hybrids is no longer an option.
Sure, Corvette gearheads might not like the idea of a hybrid sports car, but times are changing and we need to look at a car’s heritage from a different, updated perspective. The second-gen NSX also sports a hybrid drivetrain and Porsche is already working on its very first all-electric model. There’s nothing wrong with the Corvette getting an electric motor as long as Chevy keeps building V-8 models, right?