After lots and lots of leaks and teasers, it’s here. Feast your eyes on the 2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray — the first hybrid Corvette, and the first with all-wheel drive. Its debut marks the 70th anniversary of the original Corvette, introduced to the world in New York City in January 1953, but the E-Ray is no retro machine.
2024 Corvette E-Ray: Drivetrain and Power Output
Think of the E-Ray as half Stingray, half Z06. It’s got the widened body of a Z06, but under the engine cover lies the 495-hp, 470 lb-ft LT2 naturally aspirated small-block V8 that powers the Stingray, driving the rear wheels through an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The front axle is where the news is. Tucked deep in the nose of this latest C8 is a 160-hp, 125 lb-ft electric motor driving the front wheels, powered by a 1.9 kWh battery housed in the tunnel between the seats. With both the internal-combustion engine and the electric motor running at full tilt, the E-Ray makes a total of 655 hp. It’s the first production vehicle to pair a naturally aspirated V8 engine with electric all-wheel drive.
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“We’ve been wanting to do this for a really long time,” Tadge Juechter, global Corvette executive chief engineer, told me at a top-secret event at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds in Michigan ahead of today’s E-Ray’s debut. “The mid-engine does a lot of good things for us, including giving us the flexibility architecturally to get to something customers have been asking about for decades, which is all-wheel drive.”
Corvette E-Ray Styling and Design
The E-Ray’s body panels are basically identical to the Z06’s, including flared fenders front and rear. The E-Ray distinguishes itself from lesser Stingray models with body-colored accent panels (instead of black), though carbon-fiber accents are optional. The E-Ray debuts a new, exclusive five-spoke wheel design, and an extended rear spoiler with a 20mm wicker comes in the trunk. Because the E-Ray uses the base Stingray internal-combustion drivetrain, the exhaust routing is the same as the base-model C8, with twin tips exiting behind either rear wheel. (The Z06 gets four center-exit exhaust tips.)
2024 Corvette E-Ray: Performance and Capability
With Chevy claiming an estimated 0-60 time of 2.5 seconds and a 10.5-second, 130-mph quarter-mile time with no rollout, Chevy says the E-Ray will be quicker than the outrageous 670-hp C8 Z06. (For reference, Car and Driver measured a Z06 with the upgrade Z07 package at 2.6 seconds to 60 mph, with a 10.5-second, 131-mph quarter-mile, both calculated using a one-foot rollout.) But while the Z06 is engineered to be a track beast, the E-Ray is meant for all-around, all-weather performance. “From the beginning we said, we want to use electrification to improve and support what’s great about a Corvette,” Juechter told me in Michigan. “We wanted to use electrification to enhance the driver’s experience.”
While the E-Ray runs just about neck-and-neck with the Z06 in terms of acceleration and power output, the focus on all-weather capability makes the E-Ray feel like the grand tourer of the Corvette lineup. I asked Juechter if this was a fair way to explain the E-Ray. “Completely fair,” he said. “It comes across that way. The ride rates are much lower [than Z06], it’s much more compliant on the road. You get all the exotic look and a lot of the capability, but it’s dialed back a little bit, a little more relaxed. The Z06 is a little high-strung, itching for a fight all the time…. This thing is just super comfortable, super chill.”
E-Ray Electric All-Wheel Drive and Battery System
The heart of the E-Ray is the compact, 80-pound electric motor driving the front axle. This motor, which is not shared with any other GM vehicle, is active at speeds from zero to 150 mph. It’s rated at 125 lb-ft of torque, which is routed through an 8.16:1 final drive ratio, meaning the E-Ray puts out a maximum of 1,020 lb-ft of torque at the front wheels.
The 1.9-kWh battery is made up of 80 flat-pouch lithium ion cells from LG. The battery and all of its control circuitry are housed in a single unit that inserts into the structural backbone tunnel stamped into every C8’s floor. In conventional Corvettes, this tunnel is closed out with a metal plate; assembling the E-Ray is just a matter of slipping the battery box into the channel in place of the closeout plate, making it easier for GM to add E-Ray production to the Corvette assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Compared to most conventional hybrids, the E-Ray’s battery is tiny, weighing just over 100 pounds. To keep weight to a minimum, Corvette engineers decided to use a small battery, capable of discharging and recharging quickly for maximum performance out of a physically small package.
“The battery is designed to dump as much energy as it possibly can as quickly as it can to the drive unit,” Mark Stheiner, assistant chief engineer for hybrid drive systems, told me. “That means it depletes itself quickly, but it also can regenerate from the front drive unit at a super high rate.” In normal driving, the E-Ray recharges through regeneration every time you take your foot off the accelerator, meaning the battery should rarely dip below about 80 percent charge. But even if you manage to deplete the battery nearly completely, the front motor can regenerate by adding a tiny amount of drag during normal driving, bringing the battery back to nearly a full charge with just a few miles of driving.
Unlike the vast majority of hybrids, the E-Ray’s electric motor is not connected to the combustion engine in any way. That means the engine is never charging the battery, nor is the front-axle motor ever influencing the output of the small-block V8. Instead, think of them as two completely independent drivetrains crammed into one car.
The E-Ray offers a new “Stealth” drive mode, allowing you to whisper along on pure electric power without waking the neighbors. But don’t expect to drive all day on battery power: The E-Ray’s tiny battery only provides enough juice to go about 3 or 4 miles on all-electric power, and the gas engine will kick in if you go over 45 mph. To keep the added weight of the e-AWD system to a minimum, Chevy didn’t add a plug-in charging port on the E-Ray. The point of the electric motor isn’t to stretch out the Corvette’s fuel mileage — it’s all about adding instant electric torque for acceleration, as well as all-wheel-drive traction. All told, Juechter says the E-Ray weighs about 300 pounds more than a C8 Z06; considering the added complexity of the e-AWD system, that’s not a terrible weight penalty. Chevy claims a dry weight of 3,774 pounds for the E-Ray coupe, or 3,856 for the convertible.
Oh, and since you were wondering: The E-Ray’s front trunk is almost exactly as large as the regular C8 Stingray’s. Chevy had to take away a small sliver of trunk space along the bottom longitudinal edges of the floor, to make space for additional coolant lines serving the electric drivetrain. You’ll lose about the equivalent of two Snickers bars’ worth of cargo space if you step up to the E-Ray.
C8 E-Ray Chassis and Suspension
The only major structural change to the E-Ray is in the front suspension. To make room for the front-axle half-shafts, engineers had to raise the front spring and shock assembly by a little more than an inch. The coilover shocks are the same shape and size as they are on the Stingray, with identical suspension travel, but the shock towers are mounted slightly higher, and engineers added a tower-to-tower brace to keep things stiff. Aside from the altered mounting of the front coilovers, the front suspension geometry is identical to non-hybrid Corvettes, and the rear suspension is unchanged.
The chassis tuning on the E-Ray sits between the most aggressive Stingray (the Z51 with optional MagneRide) and the Z06. “Obviously it’s a heavier car, with wider tires and wheels, more unsprung mass,” Josh Holder, Corvette chief engineer, told me. “We’ve gotta control that mass, but we don’t want this car to be as visceral, track-focused, juvenile as the Z06. This is more approachable, more of a gentleman’s performance machine, more comfortable for GT usage in all environments.”
E-Ray tire sizes are identical to the Z06: 275/30R-20 up front, 345/25R-21 out back. The standard-equipment tire is a Michelin all-season; the standard-fit summer tire available on the Z06 is optional on the E-Ray. Every E-Ray comes standard with carbon-ceramic brakes, measuring 15.7 inches up front, 15.4 inches at the rear.
E-Ray Ride-Along: It’s Eye-Popping Fast
As part of my visit to GM’s Milford Proving Ground, I got to ride shotgun with Stefan Frick, who’s an energy integration engineer as well as a bona fide hotshoe. Milford is home to “Black Lake,” 67 acres of uninterrupted, perfectly level pavement used for vehicle dynamics testing. In less than 8 minutes, Frick demonstrated everything the E-Ray is capable of. Long story short, it’s an ass-kicker.
We started with Stealth mode, the E-Ray whirring along in near total silence, a slight EV whine coming from the front axle. In Stealth, the instrument panel switches over to a simplified view that shows battery state of charge and how much torque you’re requesting — boot the accelerator, or exceed 45 mph, and the engine lights off, seamlessly transitioning to gasoline power.
Next was launch control. Frick held the brake, revving the engine to 4,000 rpm, then blasted off. The familiar roar of the LT2 paired with the spaceship howl of the front-axle motor as all four wheels scrambled for traction on the cold, damp pavement. Michigan in January is hardly the ideal environment for a sports car to hook up — from the passenger seat, I felt the front tires spin for a fraction of a second, then the E-Ray catapulted forward, ripping to 100 mph in well under 7 seconds. On a prepped surface, or on a day above 40 degrees, this thing will be a slingshot.
From the launch box, we flew directly into a cone course with a mix of high-speed sweepers and tight hairpins. The C8 is already extremely nimble in fast direction changes, and the E-Ray carries on that tradition, pulling big g’s in high speed corners and nipping around tight turns with tons of grip and zero body roll. For a final flourish, Frick ripped off a one-minute tire-smoking drift, the Vette holding its tail out with ease as the front-axle motor kept us on the line. It was a riot.
C8 E-Ray: Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts
The E-Ray isn’t a conventional hybrid. It’s not concerned with boosting fuel economy or commuting entirely on EV power. It follows the paradigm of the original hybrid hypercars: The Porsche 918 Spyder, the Ferrari LaFerrari, and the McLaren P1. Like those exotics, the Corvette E-Ray harnesses hybrid power in the name of rocketlike acceleration. A lithium-ion battery and a compact electric motor allowed Chevy to fit all-wheel drive in the tight confines of the C8 platform, without wrecking the car’s weight balance or daily-driver convenience. In fact, by adding that electric drivetrain, Chevy made America’s sports car that much more livable every day — no matter what climate you drive in.
It’s the quickest, most all-around capable Corvette yet. That feels like an appropriate celebration of the Vette’s 70th birthday. We can’t wait to drive the E-Ray for ourselves.
The 2024 Chevy Corvette E-Ray will have a starting MSRP of $104,295 for the coupe, or $111,295 for the convertible. Chevy says it will go on sale “later this year.”