Just a few years ago, Chevrolet introduced the first mid-engined version of its venerable all-American Corvette. After more than six decades peppered with whispers and rumors, the mid-engine Corvette was finally a reality, and it was all-new from the ground up for the 2020 model year. That eighth-generation Corvette (commonly called the C8) was touted as the most fastest ever, taking advantage of better weight distribution and better responsiveness.
Now Chevy has done it again, launching a new sports car on January 17 that shakes up the market. The 2024 Corvette E-Ray is electrified for the first time in automotive history, leading the General Motors company toward its electrification goals.
That’s how we got here.
seven decades of power
General Motors made hearts flutter in 2015 when it filed to patent the E-Ray name. Eight years later, the hybrid sports car is finally a reality. In fact, the E-Ray was released 70 years after the first Corvette prototype debuted at Motorama in New York City on January 17, 1953. Each of the Corvettes in the first batch was white with a red interior, 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-liter inline-six engine called the “Blue Flame.” In 1955, Chevy upped the ante with a 4.3-liter V8 making 195 horsepower paired with a three-speed manual transmission.
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In 1966, the Corvette was the first to get the 427-cubic-inch engine, one of several powertrain options that included a 300-horsepower small-block 327-cubic-inch engine along with the larger 427, which came in 350-, 390-, and 425-horsepower 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-engined Corvette, the car was available with a 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 in 455 and 460 horsepower flavors. The Z06 came with a supercharged version that made 650 horsepower and the even fiercer ZR1 had 755 horsepower and 715 pound-feet of torque.
As for the upcoming E-Ray, it combines the 2022 model’s 6.2-liter V8 gas-powered mid-engine (called the Stingray, a term that has been in the Corvette family since the 1960s) with an electric motor for all-out power. 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 ever, with an impressive zero-to-60 time of 2.5 seconds.
The E-Ray is a heavyweight
That first Corvette weighed less than 2,900 pounds. Over the decades, Chevy’s sports car has steadily gained weight, tipping the scales at about 3,600 pounds in 2020. Electrified powertrains like the E-Ray’s are heavier than gasoline engines, which requires revised calculations for everything from the frames to the axles to the wheels and tires.
Chevrolet says the coupe version of the E-Ray will weigh 3,980 pounds, and the convertible adds 76 pounds for a total of 4,056. It’s a heavyweight sports car, compared to McLaren’s Artura plug-in hybrid at 3,303 pounds. It’s still lighter (and exponentially less expensive) than the ultra-exclusive $2 million Rimac All-Electric Refrigerator, 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 reimagined mid-engine 2020 Stingray was a surprisingly affordable American marvel. The E-Ray, however, starts at $104,295 and tops out at $120,000 or more with options.
While it may not be as destined to be as affordable to the masses as the gas-only Stingray, it easily beats the price of rivals like McLaren’s Artura and Ferrari 296 GTB. Also, the E-Ray doesn’t require a plug like McLaren and Ferrari; The E-Ray’s small 1.9 kilowatt battery pack regenerates energy when the car slows and brakes. Unlike an all-electric vehicle, the E-Ray Hybrid relies heavily on the gasoline engine and uses the battery to increase torque and save fuel.
stealth mode and more
The E-Ray will also have a lower, wider stance; it’s 3.6 inches wider overall than the Stingray and offers a bit more room to move. In addition, the new electric motor technology will affect the sound of this iconic vehicle.
Believe it or not, the delicious roar of a V8 isn’t music to everyone’s ears. When in hybrid mode, the Corvette will retain its distinctive growl. However, those who prefer a less flashy approach in the neighborhood will appreciate the Stealth mode, which is a quiet all-electric drive mode that goes up to 45 miles per hour (hopefully it won’t startle pedestrians).
Electric vehicles are quiet by nature, but automakers like Ford have also created ways to make gas-powered vehicles quieter. You may remember the debut of Ford’s “Good Neighbor Mode” in the 2018 Mustang, which muted the muscle car’s voice by adapting the active exhaust feature.
As the US continues to explore new ways to bolster the EV infrastructure in terms of charging stations and alternative energy, the E-Ray is perfectly timed. While this iteration never needs to be charged because it’s a hybrid, we hope to see an all-electric version next.
In the meantime, expect to see the 2024 Corvette E-Ray available for sale later this year.