Last month, we heard rumors the C8 Corvette ZR1 will pair a twin-turbocharged V8 with an electric front axle, making it a 900-horsepower hybrid with all-wheel drive. While these well-placed rumors certainly have us excited for the future of the new mid-engine Corvette, the ZR1 isn’t the only C8 Corvette variant that will be a hybrid, according to a new report from Jalopnik.
The website claims to have seen engineering documents that pertain to a different Corvette hybrid model that will pair an electric front axle with the C8 Corvette’s naturally aspirated 6.2-liter LT2 V8 Small Block engine. This model will allegedly be offered in both coupe and convertible variants and should have 550-600 horsepower on tap – likely placing it between the standard Corvette Stingray and the track-focused Z06 in the Corvette model hierarchy.
The lesser Corvette hybrid model is said to feature an 85-kW (about 114 horsepower) electric motor on the front axle, along with a small 1.94-kWh lithium ion battery pack mounted in the vehicle’s central tunnel. A battery of this size indicates the hybrid system will mainly be for increasing the vehicle’s performance and not its fuel economy, as such a small pack cannot enable electric-only driving for long periods of time. The front-mounted electric motor should also be able to achieve a torque vectoring effect on the front axle, applying a burst of torque to the wheel that needs it most at exactly the right time.
The Corvette hybrid will feature a different “High Mounted Damper” front suspension design, too, which shifts the location of the front suspension dampers upwards to make room for the axle shafts for the front-mounted electric motor. This design should carry over into the ZR1. The document Jalopnik viewed indicated the car will come with carbon ceramic brakes as well, along with staggered wheel and tires sizes measuring in at 275/30R20 in the front and 345/25R21 in the rear. An electronic limited-slip differential will sit out back, handling power distribution of the LT2 V8 engine.
It’s not clear how much power the lesser Corvette hybrid will produce, though it should be good for up to 600 horsepower, if not more. Calculating its output is not as simple as adding the outputs of the 114-horsepower front axle and 495-horsepower LT2 V8 together, as the electric motor and V8 motor may achieve peak outputs at different points in the rev range. You can bet it will be fast, though – with the electric motor filling in the gaps in the LT2 V8’s torque curve to provide seamless acceleration.
This mystery Corvette hybrid could be called the Corvette E-Ray, a nameplate which GM filed a patent application for back in 2015. This would make sense, as the model Jalopnik describes uses the same engine as the Corvette Stingray, but pairs it with an electric motor. Jalopnik says General Motors may have also benchmarked the Acura NSX while developing the model, with the two cars featuring similarly sized batteries and likely similar power outputs.
It’s not clear when the so-called Corvette E-Ray may debut, but it is expected to arrive before the C8 Corvette ZR1. However, GM has yet to even start building the standard Corvette Stingray coupe and Corvette Convertible models, so these hybrid variants are likely still quite far away.