A couple weeks ago as we were going gaga over the 2023 Corvette Z06 testing at the Nurburgring, Chevy engineers back in Michigan were out testing the Corvette E-Ray alongside an Acura NSX Type S. Now that we have returned to Florida after back-to-back Corvette shows at Carlisle and the Corvette Museum, we wanted to take a closer look at this unique C8 Corvette prototype.
Our spy photographer spent nearly a day shadowing the engineering team as they were driving five camouflaged prototypes driving through rural Michigan, and the encounter yielded a number of photos that help us nail down the fact that these prototypes are indeed the E-Ray.
The engineers were also driving a white Acura NSX for benchmarking purposes. The NSX is a performance hybrid that features a sport-hybrid 3-motor system which boosts the output of the twin-turbo V6 to 573-hp and 476 lb-ft of torque.
While it’s been rumored that the C8 Corvette E-Ray would come as a widebody, the photos clearly show the front fascia that looks nearly identical to the fascia on the Z06 but without the aggressive aero. The light was just right in several of these photos to allow us to peer through the mesh covering to confirm that detail. Whether that front fascia will be different as the car gets closer to production will be anyone’s guess at this point, but the backside shows the corner-mounted rear exhaust which confirms to us that the E-Ray will be powered by the 6.2L 495-hp LT2 V8.
It’s been said that the E-Ray effectively replaces the Grand Sport in the line-up hierarchy and is being set up more as a grand tourer than a track-attack machine. The E-Ray will utilize GM’s new family of Ultium batteries that are stored in the center aluminum “spine” of the C8 and an Ultium motor that sits down in the frunk area will provide eAWD by powering the front wheels. With the LT2 and electric motor working in tandem, horsepower has been estimated to be somewhere between 600 and 650. We are hoping to see the E-Ray capable of low-speed driving just on the batteries as well as vectored performance with the computers being able to supply electric power to the individual wheels when requested. It’s not yet known if the car will be a plug-in hybrid or not, but we do know that it will offer regenerative charging through the braking system.
In fact, we believe the most revealing picture of the E-Ray taken so far is the photo showing a unique button on the side of the center console. That button has been identified as GM’s Regen On Demand, which allows the regenerative brake system to capture the energy produced when braking and convert that back into charging the E-Ray’s batteries. Regen On Demand is also known as “one-pedal driving” as it allows the driver to brake without using the brake pedal as it’s engaged whenever the accelerator pedal is released.
Here is what our friends at GM Authority say about Regen on Demand:
Notably, Regen On Demand can be found in vehicles as early as the 2014 Cadillac ELR, though the four-mode iteration was introduced with the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV. The newer version offers progressively stronger levels of regen braking, which are matched to four driver-selectable modes that are designated by the corresponding numerical values. Number 1 provides the lowest level of regen braking and requires the use of the brake pedal to bring the vehicle to a complete stop. Numbers 2-4 are progressively stronger one-pedal driving modes that in certain driving situations allow a driver to stop the vehicle without using the brake pedal. (One-pedal modes do not eliminate the need to use the brake pedal altogether, especially in emergency situations.)
We’re assuming that the new E-Ray will have a number of unique displays and functions that are visible on the driver’s gauges, and these prototypes show that the dash displays were covered to keep prying eyes (and camera lenses) from seeing those specific graphics.
Another rumor that has been validated is that Corvette E-Ray will be wearing similar-sized tires that have been spotted previously on the Z06 prototypes. Those include the massive 345-sized Michelin tires on the rears while the fronts are wearing 275s. We note that the team is testing these prototypes with Michelin’s Pilot Sport All-Season tires to boot. Although not widely reported yet, Michelin is working on dedicated snow tires sized in 345s so it’s good to know that E-Ray buyers will have some different options available when it comes to tire selection.
Finally, the team was testing the E-Ray on both the Coupe and Convertible models, and we even spied a Right-Hand-Drive model which tells us the E-Ray will be headed to those foreign markets as an export.
Chevrolet currently has the Corvette Z06 model on its reveal calendar for October 26th and a rollout planned for the 2023 model year. So far there has been no real news as to when the Corvette E-Ray model will officially shed its camo and be revealed to the world. Due to the nature of previous Corvette rollouts, we would be very surprised to see the E-Ray and the Z06 revealed in the same year, and so our guess is that the E-Ray will debut next year as a 2024 model.
Check out this gallery of photos showing the Corvette E-Ray testing with an Acura NSX in Michigan:
Photos by KGP Photography
E-Ray Corvette Will Come as a Widebody Wearing 345-Sized Rear All-Weather Michelin Tires
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