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Why is it a hybrid car and not an all-electric car?

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GM introduces first 'electrified' Corvette

DETROIT – General Motors’ future may lie in all-electric vehicles, but it still needs its current models to pay the bills to be able to invest in these new products.

That’s one reason the automaker on Tuesday unveiled the 2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray – the first “electrified” or hybrid version of the famous sports car. It also features all-wheel drive, another first for the eighth generation, or C8, Corvette.

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The car – starting at around $104,000 when it launches later this year – may surprise some consumers as it’s a step towards full electrification, but a unicorn in GM’s lineup. The Detroit automaker has phased out all hybrids, including plug-in hybrids, to focus investment on all-electric vehicles.

So why make a hybrid Corvette? GM says there are a number of reasons, but overall, the automaker was already developing the technology ahead of its more aggressive EV ambitions. It’s also a new market that should help the company test the electrification waters for the iconic car.

“It’s just a new market opportunity for us as a company to showcase our engineering and our development of the entire architecture of the C8,” GM President Mark Reuss told CNBC’s Phil LeBeau. “General Motors and Chevrolet continue to enhance what we are delivering for the Corvette customer.”

Last year, Reuss confirmed that an all-electric Corvette is coming, but GM hasn’t announced a timeline for the EV version.

it’s a corvette

The most obvious reason for the hybrid is that it’s a Corvette, so GM does special things for it. The car has been a halo vehicle for the automaker for 70 years. It’s something the company has always considered apart from being able to attract new buyers to the company as a whole.

The current eighth-generation car is especially notable because GM turned it into a mid-engined sports car for better performance, moving the engine from under the hood to behind the car’s two passenger seats.

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray hybrid sports car


The C8 features a unique Corvette engine and architecture. Almost all GM vehicles share platforms, engines, and other features. For example, all of GM’s large trucks and SUVs are on the same platform and feature largely the same engines.

“There is incredible architecture beneath it, and the architecture has been planned and designed for a few variants,” Reuss said.

The last GM vehicle to use a modified Corvette architecture was the sixth-generation version, with the short-lived Cadillac XLR, which was discontinued in 2009.

spent capital

Officials also say the hybrid was co-developed with the regular C8 Corvette, which debuted in July 2019.

That means most, if not all, of the capital for research and development on the car was allocated ahead of GM’s accelerated EV plans. The Corvette factory in Kentucky also won’t need any additional investment or downtime for the move, according to a GM spokesman.

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray hybrid sports car


“It’s just part of our journey to what we’ve talked about before, which is ‘electrified’ and then there’s all-electric Corvettes, and we’re certainly on the way to that,” said Steve Majoros, Chevrolet’s vice president of marketing, during a media briefing. . “But in the meantime, we have a lot of technological bandwidth that we can still unpack with the Corvette.”

The hybrid system was designed specifically for the eighth-generation Corvette, according to Harlan Charles, product marketing manager for the Chevrolet Corvette. The battery system – a 1.9 kilowatt-hour battery located between the seats – is charged primarily by regenerative energy from deceleration and braking, as well as during normal driving.

The system allows the Corvette to start silently instead of emitting the roaring sound of the V8, improves acceleration and potentially the vehicle’s fuel economy. GM has refused to release mpg expectations, which for the regular C8 is a combined 19 mpg.

Corvette family?

Future all-electric Corvettes could change more than just the vehicle’s powertrain. Automotive News, citing industry analysts, reported last year that GM is expected to launch an all-electric SUV version of the Corvette around 2025.

A Corvette SUV has been speculated for years after the success of sports car manufacturers such as Porsche, Maserati and others successfully expanding these vehicles. ford engine it also found success using its Mustang names, badges, and features for the all-electric Mustang Mach-E.

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Ford has even said that the Mach-E is the reason the automaker can continue to produce V-8 versions of the car. GM could do something similar.

A GM spokesman declined to speculate on the Corvette’s expansion, citing that the company has seen the reports and “will not be involved in the speculation.”

In late 2019, Adam Jonas, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, said a Corvette sub-brand could be worth $7 billion to $12 billion to the automaker.

No plugins

GM’s Reuss has made it clear that the company has not been interested in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles since it discontinued the Chevrolet Volt in early 2019. He described these vehicles as too expensive to produce and as transient in the push for all-electric cars and trucks.

“There’s no plug-in part of this,” Reuss said. “This is a truly performance-oriented electrified system.”

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray hybrid sports car


In addition to the company pulling out of PHEVs, officials said the extra weight of additional batteries and plug-in technologies would reduce the vehicle’s performance. An all-electric Corvette would be heavier, but would benefit from near-instantaneous torque and other EV driving dynamics to offset the weight gain.

“This vehicle’s mission was performance, performance, performance,” said Mike Kociba, Corvette development engineer. “Each kilogram or pound had to gain its way from a mass standpoint. … It hurt performance, plain and simple.”

– CNBC Phil LeBeau contributed to this report.