Earlier this month I offered up a review for the official book on the C8 Corvette called Corvette Stingray: The Mid Engine Revolution and there was a paragraph in there from Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter about “hiding in plain sight” that really stuck with me, especially when we see these older powertrain mules still being driven in the Detroit area.
That paragraph reads:
Bringing the eighth-gen ‘Vette to production required extensive testing, and test mules logged nearly 1,000,000 real-world miles on the road. The keen camera lenses of spy photographers captured images that fanned the flames of mid-engine Corvette fever. “On a typical Corvette program, we can test right under everybody’s nose,” Juechter says. [emphasis mine] Advanced development work on a new chassis, changes to suspension geometry, new tires, new powertrain stuff all can be installed under an old body, which means test engineers can drive around and onlookers would never know it’s the new car. This time was different.
And with that said, we have a new sighting from a Corvette friend who came across a camouflaged C8 Corvette prototype parked in a Detroit-area driveway late last week. This is one of the early powertrain mules that Chevy continues to test and it’s our belief that this could be one of the E-Ray prototypes as it has the various testing ports and shutoff switches that we’ve come to associate with the rumored hybrid model.
I drew an arrow to this section of the C8 Corvette’s passenger front fender as it appears there is a covered cutout panel. On previous sightings, that same location on similar models featured 12-volt battery connectors that would protrude through the body.
Some of the interesting features we see are the 2-into-1 exhaust tips and the trailer hitch that is used to cart around testing equipment behind it. We also note seeing for the first time a small toggle switch inside the car that’s mounted to the side of the climate control buttress.
From looking at the car on the outside, there is no way to really discern what exactly is being tested here, and of course that’s one of the goals for the Corvette engineering team. But as that paragraph about Tadge above reveals that nearly 1,000,000 real-world miles were generated in testing the Stingrays, we have to believe a similar testing regime is in place for any of the future models as well. Especially for those models whose powertrain is different than the already validated Stingray.
The E-Ray model is currently rumored to be part of the 2023 model year line-up, and we believe this model will be the first step in getting Corvette enthusiasts to embrace a fully electric Corvette that will be coming someday in the future. GM has given themselves 15 years to swear off internal combustion engines, and if the eAWD drive capabilities perform in a manner that elevates and empresses current owners, we might look back someday on the E-Ray and give it the same adoration as the 1955 Corvettes that are known for being the first Corvettes with a V8 engine.
Photo credits: Thomas Marcucci
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