Why GM’s new Chevy Corvette is a hybrid rather than an electric car? Even if all-electric vehicles are where GM’s future lies, the company can’t afford to invest in them without steady revenue from its present models.
For this reason, Chevrolet unveiled the 2024 Corvette E-Ray on Tuesday, the first “electrified” or hybrid version of the iconic sports automobile. Another first for the C8 series of Corvettes is all-wheel drive.
As a step toward full electrification but a unicorn in GM’s portfolio, the car’s starting price of around $104,000 when it’s released later this year may surprise some shoppers. The Detroit carmaker stopped making hybrids, including plug-in hybrids, so it could devote more resources to developing fully electric vehicles.
As a result, why create a Corvette hybrid? General Motors cites several factors, but the main one is that it started working on this technology long before it had any serious plans to enter the electric vehicle market. It’s a novel market for the automaker, so it’ll let them gauge interest in electrifying the classic vehicle.
General Motors President Mark Reuss told CNBC’s Phil LeBeau, “It’s a new market opportunity for us as a company to exhibit our engineering and our development of the overall architecture of C8.” The services we provide to the Corvette client have been steadily expanding thanks to the efforts of GM and Chevrolet.
Last year, Reuss indicated that an electric version of the Corvette would be released, but General Motors has not yet provided a release date.
It’s a Corvette
Because it’s a Corvette, GM naturally takes extra care to make it hybrid-friendly. For seven decades, this car has represented the company’s flagship product. For as long as it has been around, the company has known that this product stands apart from the competition and has the potential to bring in new customers.
The current eighth-generation automobile is remarkable for being a mid-engine sports car, with the engine mounted between the two rows of seats instead than under the bonnet.
The C8’s engine and chassis are unique to the Corvette brand. GM models almost universally share platforms, machines, and other components. Examples include General Motors (GM) full-size trucks and SUVs, all built on a single platform and sharing the same engines.
According to Reuss, “there’s just a wonderful architecture beneath it,” which was “designed and engineered for quite a few permutations.”
In 2009, General Motors retired the Cadillac XLR, the last of its vehicles to employ a modified version of the Corvette’s chassis.
The normal C8 Corvette will be released in July 2019, and officials say the hybrid was built alongside it.
That means almost all of the money for the car’s R&D was spent before General Motors increased its EV aspirations. A representative for GM said that the Corvette facility in Kentucky would not require any extra funding or downtime due to the switch.
During a press conference, Chevrolet’s vice president of marketing, Steve Majoros, said, “It’s just part of our journey to what we have spoken about before that there are ‘electrified’ and eventually completely electric Corvettes, and we’re absolutely on the way to that.” However, “in the interim, we have a lot of technological bandwidth that we can still unpack with Corvette.”
Chevrolet Corvette product marketing manager Harlan Charles claims the hybrid system was developed with the eighth-generation Corvette in mind. The battery pack, which has a capacity of 1.9 kWh and is housed between the seats, is charged almost exclusively by kinetic energy recovered during coasting, braking, and regular driving.
The system reduces the loud noise made by the Corvette’s V8 at startup, increases acceleration, and may increase fuel economy. The standard C8 gets 19 mpg on the highway, but GM won’t say what the C8 Hybrid will get.
Is there a Corvette clan?
All-electric Corvettes of the future might alter the car in more ways than one. GM is planning to release an all-electric SUV variant of the Corvette sometime around 2025, according to predictions made public by Automotive News last year.
As other sports cars manufacturers like Porsche and Maserati have found commercial success with SUVs, speculation regarding a Corvette SUV has persisted for years. Ford Motor Company’s all-electric Mustang Mach-E has been very successful thanks mainly to borrowing the Mustang’s name, badging, and attributes.
Ford has even gone so far as to imply that the Mach-E is the reason why the company can keep making V-8 variants of the automobile. The same thing might be possible at GM.
The GM representative said the business had seen the rumors and would “not engage in the conjecture” regarding the future of the Corvette.
It was reported by Adam Jonas, automotive analyst at Morgan Stanley, in late 2019 that the value of a Corvette sub-brand to General Motors could be anywhere from $7 billion to $12 billion.
Since GM dropped the Chevrolet Volt at the beginning of 2019, CEO Mark Reuss has made it evident that the corporation has no interest in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. He thinks it’s too expensive to make them, and we should move toward fully electric automobiles and trucks instead.
Reuss emphasized that “there is no plug-in piece of this.” An electric system with this level of performance is unprecedented.
In addition to the company’s abandonment of PHEVs, officials cited concerns that the added bulk of batteries and plug-in technologies would negatively impact the vehicle’s handling and acceleration. The instantaneous torque and other advantages of EV driving could mitigate the added weight of an all-electric Corvette.
According to Mike Kociba, the main development engineer for the Corvette, “the aim of this vehicle was performance, performance, performance.” From a bulk perspective, “every kg or pound has to earn its way in… Simply put, it hurt output.