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Chevy electrified the Corvette to make it even more powerful — see the hybrid E-Ray

Tim Levin   

Chevy electrified the Corvette to make it even more powerful — see the hybrid E-Ray
  • Chevrolet unveiled the first-ever hybrid Corvette: the E-Ray.
  • It has all-wheel drive, 655 horsepower, and hits 60 mph in 2.5 seconds.

Seventy years to the day after Chevrolet first revealed the Corvette in New York City, it's notched another milestone: the first-ever electrified version of the iconic sports car.

On Tuesday, Chevy unveiled the 2024 Corvette E-Ray, the first 'Vette to be powered jointly by a gas engine and an electric motor. A thrilling test ride in the breathtakingly quick new model made me wonder: What took so long?

The E-Ray pairs a 6.2-liter V8 (powering the rear wheels, as usual) with an electric motor driving the front axle. This hybrid powertrain unleashes an impressive 655 horsepower and 595 pound-feet of torque.

Capable of hitting 60 mph in 2.5 seconds and smashing a quarter mile in 10.5, the E-Ray is the quickest production Corvette ever, Chevy says. Like other souped-up models, the E-Ray gets fatter tires (for enhanced traction) and a wider body to match.

A grab-bag of superlatives, the E-Ray is also the first Corvette with all-wheel drive. The idea behind the new model, Chevy's representatives told me, was to use electrification to create a higher-performance Corvette, but also one that's more suitable for everyday driving. An all-wheel-drive system should give buyers more confidence to take their car out even when the weather isn't perfect, while the hybrid setup boosts fuel efficiency.

"Over the years when people have had more money to spend ... we just offered them more fire-breathing track monsters," Harlan Charles, a Chevy product marketing manager, said. "So this really is a new direction for us."

I got a taste of the $104,295 E-Ray's dual personalities during a brief ride around downtown Manhattan with Cody Bulkley, a Chevy performance engineer, at the wheel.

We started out in Stealth Mode, which uses only the E-Ray's front motor to silently amble at speeds of up to 45 mph. Bulkley then took me on a cobblestone street to demonstrate the model's standard adaptive suspension, which can soak up bumps on regular roads or stiffen up for more spirited driving. It was comfy and not at all jittery. Then Bulkley stomped the gas to switch on the E-Ray's throaty V8.

On an open stretch of the West Side Highway, Bulkley floored it and the E-Ray rocketed forward with the instant, gut-punching acceleration of an electric car — plus the violent rumble of a V8. All I could muster was a shocked "woah!" as I caught my breath. Even after a few more sprints, the thrills never got old.

So why not launch a hybrid Corvette earlier? Simple. The new mid-engine layout, which puts the engine behind the seats and was only introduced for the latest Corvette generation, was crucial for making the project happen, Chevy's engineers said.

The E-Ray will introduce customers to the advantages of electric cars — the instant torque and brutal acceleration — without making them give up their V8 engines or worry about charging just yet, Charles said, calling it "the best of both worlds."

But General Motors plans to phase out gasoline-fueled cars by 2035, so a fully electric Corvette is in the works too.

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