CORRECTION 1/17/23: An earlier version of this story mentioned that the E-Ray’s Stealth mode does not work in reverse; the reverse is true—it absolutely does. We have revised the story to remove that statement.
Believe it or not, some Corvette fans weren’t happy when Chevy messed with the recipe of their favorite sports car. While moving its small-block V-8 from the front to the middle helped unlock a previously unachievable level of performance, fundamentalists fumed that the bow-tie brand went too far with the C8 generation.
Now those purists are likely to be even more pissed off with the arrival of the 2024 Chevy Corvette E-Ray, which adds fuel (and electrons) to the fire as the first Vette with all-wheel drive and a hybrid powertrain. By combining those new traits with the regular Stingray’s V-8 heart and the track-focused Z06’s wide body, the E-Ray alters the identity of America’s preeminent sports car and sets it on a radical new course.
The Most Revolutionary Vette Yet
The C8 generation, which debuted for the 2020 model year, broke the Corvette mold by adopting a mid-engine layout. The introduction of an all-wheel-drive hybrid variant changes the game yet again and was part of the plan all along—something we uncovered a while ago. With the electrified Vette finally revealed to the world, we now know exactly what it’s all about.
The E-Ray isn’t intended as a Grand Sport replacement, rather it’s billed as an ultimate grand-touring model meant to find new roads (pun intended). It also finally gives Chevy a four-season adversary to all-wheel-drive Porsche 911s and other high-end rivals that don’t have to hide in their garages in the slipperiest conditions.
At the heart of the E-Ray is the 495-hp version of the 6.2-liter pushrod V-8 inherited from the Stingray. Known as the LT2, the engine feeds the rear wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, only now there’s a front-mounted electric motor in the mix with 160 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. The drive unit is said to be about the size of a 12-pack, with a magnesium casting and an E-Ray-specific oil cooler located behind the driver’s-side front bumper. Altogether the hybrid setup makes 655 hp and constitutes an all-wheel-drive system.
Chevy says the E-Ray’s electrical components add about 300 pounds to the curb weight of the Corvette Z06 coupe and convertible; the hybrid is available in both body styles. Based on our own measurements of a 3666-pound Z06 coupe and a 3799-pound Z06 convertible, the E-Rays will likely tip our scales at around 3966 and 4099 pounds, respectively. That will also mean the droptop E-Ray is the first production Corvette to eclipse two tons—making it the heaviest model ever.
Despite the extra poundage, the E-Ray’s all-wheel-drive traction and instant electric torque contribute to Chevy’s claim that it’s the quickest factory-built Vette ever. The company says the coupe will hit 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, which is just a tenth better than the 2.6 ticks we clocked with the targa-topped Z06. The E-Ray also claims a quarter-mile time of 10.5 seconds, identical to our Z06 test. For those attempting high-speed runs at the track, the electric motor is geared out of the equation above 150 mph (Chevy claims the E-Ray has a top speed of around 180 mph).
The First Battery-Powered Corvette
A small 1.1-kWh lithium-ion battery powers the E-Ray’s permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor; a separate 12-volt lithium-ion battery supports the V-8’s stop-start function and other accessories. The main pack is entirely contained in the center tunnel that separates both passengers. Chevy says it weighs about 100 pounds, with its 80 pouches supplied by LG but assembled by GM.
Its tiny battery is also the reason the E-Ray isn’t a plug-in hybrid. Chevy says it’s designed to rapidly charge and discharge itself. The amount of electric assist varies among the six selectable drive modes, and there’s also a hybrid-only function called Charge+ that can be activated to maximize the battery’s state of charge, which is said to be especially useful while lapping longer racetracks.
Pure-electric driving is very limited, with Chevy estimating up to five miles of range in the E-Ray’s exclusive Stealth mode. The latter only works up to 45 mph or until the driver activates the gas engine with the throttle. The main benefit of Stealth mode is respecting others, with the ability to quietly exit neighborhoods without the gas engine’s boisterous soundtrack.
The electric motor has an open diff and uses brake-based torque vectoring. It’s also intended to optimize performance rather than efficiency, so while the hybrid should be the most frugal Corvette at the gas pump, don’t expect Prius-level fuel economy when its EPA ratings eventually come out.
In Stealth mode, the hybrid Corvette emits a futuristic hum for safety reasons and probably because it sounds cool. Even when the vociferous V-8 gets involved, the two sounds merge to create a raucous sci-fi melody inside the cabin, as we learned during a brief, albeit wild, ride-along.
That experience on a closed track at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds showcased the E-Ray’s ability to perform an awesome drift (despite no dedicated drift mode). Also missing is a line-lock feature, but it does have the Z06’s custom launch control, and an engineer assured us it can do a burnout.
Corvette E-Ray Exclusive Content
The E-Ray’s unique hybrid powertrain is accompanied by a host of exclusive features as well as hardware normally reserved for the hardcore Z06. Not only does the hybrid inherit the track-oriented car’s huge hips, which are 3.6 inches wider than the Stingray’s, but it also comes standard with carbon-ceramic brakes (currently part of the $8995 Z07 performance package on the Z06).
To promote its four-season capability, every E-Ray pairs those Z07-grade stoppers with Michelin Pilot Sport all-season tires sized 275/30ZR-20 front and 345/25ZR-21 rear (stickier Pilot Sport 4S summer rubber is optional). One of our favorite facts about the hybrid Vette is the immensity of its 345-section-width rear all-seasons. Chevy says they’re the biggest ever fitted to a production car, and we can’t prove otherwise.
Supporting the E-Ray’s interesting wheel-and-tire combination are standard magnetorheological dampers. The fronts are part of a reworked suspension setup where the shock towers were raised and a connecting brace was added to accommodate the half-shafts from the electric motor to the front wheels. Since this was all planned during the C8 Corvette’s development, we’re told it doesn’t affect the suspension travel or hood height. The front-axle lift system also remains optional.
The E-Ray’s front-motor setup also barely affects the Corvette’s front trunk space, with cargo volume said to lose less than one cubic foot. The same goes for the car’s interior, which is almost identical to nonhybrid models. The most notable changes are the unique displays now viewable in the gauge cluster and center touchscreen, including one specific to Stealth mode as well as special pages for power output and other performance metrics. Buttons for the start-stop system and the Charge+ function are also added to the side of the center console near the driver’s thigh area.
When to Expect the Expensive E-Ray
The 2024 Corvette E-Ray will go on sale later this year, with the base 1LZ coupe starting at $104,295. That’s nearly $40K more than the base price of the 2023 Stingray coupe and $7000 less than the 2023 Z06 coupe. The E-Ray convertible costs an extra $7000, with a starting price of $111,295 for the 1LZ trim.
Of course, there are myriad other options that Chevy has yet to specify pricing for. The roster of available add-ons includes an E-Ray-specific Electric Blue stripe that runs the length of the car, carbon-fiber exterior and interior trim, multiple seat options, and carbon-fiber wheels. There’s also a Performance package that—while not as extreme as the bewinged Z07 kit—adds the aforementioned summer tires.
As long as there are people who hate change, there will be people who balk at a hybrid all-wheel-drive Corvette. Well, the electrified E-Ray is officially on the way, and we expect an even mightier Zora version is on deck—no matter what the haters say.