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The Corvette is going hybrid – and that's making it even faster

A Chevrolet logo is pictured during the Tokyo Auto Salon in Tokyo on Jan. 12, 2020. Chevrolet on Tuesday unveiled a hybrid version of its Corvette sports car.
Charly Triballeau
AFP via Getty Images
A Chevrolet logo is pictured during the Tokyo Auto Salon in Tokyo on Jan. 12, 2020. Chevrolet on Tuesday unveiled a hybrid version of its Corvette sports car.

The newest Corvette is, well, Corvette-y: A 495-horsepower V8. Zero to sixty in 2.5 seconds. A quarter mile in 10.5 seconds.

But there's a major difference between the 2024 Corvette E-Ray and every other Corvette ever unveiled by Chevrolet: this one is a hybrid, with both a gas-powered engine and a battery-powered one.

Chevrolet doesn't like the word "hybrid," which is associated with fuel economy, and "economy" is not a word that pairs well with this $104,000 sports car.

They prefer to call it this the first "electrified" Corvette, with an electric motor attached to the front wheels in addition to the powerful mid-engine V8 powering the back. Adding the electric motor makes this the fastest Corvette in the brand's 70-year history.

"This is all about enhancing the performance of the Corvette," says Josh Holder, Corvette's vehicle chief engineer. The small electric motor captures energy when the vehicle is slowing down, and the vehicle uses that power to provide an extra boost.

"We can store that in a very powerful battery and then redeploy it to help power the car out of a turn on a back road, for example," Holder says.

The Corvette E-Ray has a stealth mode

The 2024 Corvette E-Ray, in another first for a Corvette, has all-wheel drive.

Chevy unveiled it on the Rockefeller ice rink in New York and claims it can drive in snow.

And that roaring V8? If you want to make nice with the neighbors, you can drive for a few miles in "Stealth mode" instead, to the tune of an electric whine.

Hybrid performance vehicles are not a new concept.

Formula 1 race cars have been hybrid for nearly a decade, and brands like Porsche and Ferrari have had high-profile hybrid models.

Hybrids are also still going strong in other parts of the auto industry, from crossovers and SUVs to pickup trucks.

Hybrids vying with gas-powered and fully electric cars

But it's remarkable that Corvette — a General Motors brand — is unveiling a hybrid at this moment.

GM has advertised a strategic shift toward exclusively making zero-emissions vehicles by 2035, and unlike some of its rivals, GM has not strongly embraced hybrid vehicles as a bridge technology — except for Corvettes, where designers saw how a battery could boost performance.

An electric Corvette is coming eventually, GM says. For now, the gas tank remains.

Meanwhile, the other big Detroit automakers are charting different paths with their iconic sports cars.

Dodge is discontinuing the gas-powered Charger and Challenger at the end of this year, promising an electric muscle car to replace them.

And Ford, which has split its vehicle operations into two halves, is also dividing the Mustang brand, attaching the name to a popular electric SUV while continuing to make a purely gas-powered Mustang sports car.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.

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