One of the future Corvettes we are very excited about is the rumored E-Ray model that is expected to take the slot of the Grand Sport model in 2023. We have previously offered up our version of “everything we know about the E-Ray” and thanks to Don Sherman’s new piece for SAE International, we now have some additional details to share.
Like our previous article, Don points out that the C8 Corvette’s current architecture that’s in place right now is just waiting to be electrified. The aluminum structural backbone of the Corvette which runs down the center of the car is the perfect place for battery storage. As the tunnel now houses only coolant lines from the front radiators to the mid-mounted LT2 V8 engine, the 2.0 cubic feet of internal storage volume will easily house GM’s Ultium “pouch-style” lithium battery cells within.
Also currently in place and ready to go hybrid are the front springs, dampers, and steering components which will allow a pair of electric motors to have a “straight shot” to connect to the C8 Corvette’s front wheel hubs.
Here’s where Don gets specific with the E-Ray’s drive system:
Two independently controlled 50-plus hp (37-plus kW) AC electric motors butted together will raise the Corvette hybrid’s total output to more than 600 hp (448 kW). The mid-mounted LT2 6.2-L V8 and its 8-speed Tremec dual-clutch transaxle will continue in the E-Ray’s hybrid system with minimal changes.
According to Don, these motors will take up some portion of the frunk’s cargo space, and there are still questions on whether or not the car will be a plug-in hybrid for charging purposes.
The gains from the Ultium motors and battery will provide “significant performance” through an improved power-to-weight ratio with the Corvette seeing enhanced launch and traction capabilities through the all-wheel-drive which we have started referring to as “eAWD” based on the Corvette’s similar nomenclature. Don also thinks the hybrid system will allow the electric motors to “give the motor a break” by being able to fully power the car during cruising. That feature alone will result in higher fuel economy numbers for the Corvette and should be enough to label it a green car that will make it eligible for drivers to access locations and parking where ICE-only motors are banned.
So what will such a car cost? That’s the good news for those of us on an E-Ray list is that he expects a price well less than $100,000. If you think that’s a pipe-dream, I should remind you of how many thought the base price of the C8 Corvette was going to be greater than $100,000.
But wait, there’s more from the legendary automotive writer on three more future C8 Corvette models we are waiting for.
Don still has the Corvette Z06 arriving in 2022 which will make 600-hp from its LT6 V8 engine, while the Corvette ZR1 will debut in 2024 with two turbochargers for 850 hp from the LT7 engine. He says both of these engines “are 6th-generation small block designs succeeding Cadillac’s short-lived LTA ‘Blackwing'” V8.
The last piece of the puzzle will be the C8 Corvette’s grand finale, a tribute to chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov which will feature a twin-turbo 5.5 Liter DOHC V8 with the hybrid electric motors to offer more than 1,000 horsepower, making it the “highest caliber weapon in Corvette Engineering’s arsenal.”
Finally, Don mentions the possibility of GM extending the Corvette line-up with a battery-electric SUV that will feature the Corvette’s crossed-flags and design cues. Currently code-named “Project R”, the Corvette-inspired SUV could arrive in 2025 as well.