At General Motors’ investor day on Thursday, President Mark Reuss had a lot to say about the company’s progress toward electrification. There was the typical litany of ambitious aims and upbeat sentiments, but we also learnt something new: An all-electric supercar based on the Chevrolet Corvette will be available as early as next year. This is in addition to the long-awaited “Zora,” which will undoubtedly be the peak of Corvette performance. These will be two distinct cars, according to Reuss.
To be clear, we were aware that an all-electric Corvette was on the way. Reuss stated as much in a LinkedIn post seven months ago. “In addition to the amazing new Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and other gas-powered variants coming, we will offer an electrified and a fully electric, Ultium-based Corvette in the future.” What we didn’t realise was how fast it would arrive.
According to The Associated Press, Reuss stated that a Corvette-based sports vehicle will be released next year, adding, “This will again set the world standard for performance.”
There is significant uncertainty about what this electric C8-based sports vehicle may be. Reuss did not expressly refer to the car as a Corvette on GM’s call but did say it will employ the C8’s architecture. However, it would be uncommon for GM to develop a sports car that was not labelled a Corvette. Making an electric car on the C8’s basis may have required so many changes that the company no longer considered it appropriate to name it America’s sports car. But this is just conjecture.
There was no new information released regarding the top-tier Corvette with an internal combustion engine (and potentially hybrid batteries), but it was formally recognised, which has never occurred before. The evidence for the existence of that spacecraft has been mounting, but there hasn’t been much in the way of teasers or formal pronouncements. In contrast, the first all-wheel drive, hybrid Corvette has yet to be introduced. We are aware of its existence. It will most likely replace the Grand Sport trim that has been available on Corvettes for several decades.
But how might an EV based on the C8’s architecture look? Various firms have various views on how to build a decent electric sports vehicle. Rimac employs a battery that replaces the engine in a mid-engined vehicle, as well as cell stacking in the vehicle’s structural centre tunnel. Ferrari, on the other hand, has patents that show batteries just at the back of the car. The original Tesla Roadster did it this way.
A C8-based electric sports vehicle, in my opinion, would use the Rimac method. When the hybrid Grand Sport successor is publicly described, we should expect to see battery cells in the C8’s extremely high structural tunnel. In the Cadillac Celestiq, GM already stacks cells in a tunnel structure. However, without an engine or gearbox, there would be plenty of room at the back to stack batteries. Working out the positioning of the front motor for the base-level hybrid Corvette would also transition easily into an all-electric variant. Another engine would simply need to be put at the back, and GM has an extensive parts bin to select from.
Will lithium-ion batteries have enough energy density to make it all work? Corvette buyers are unlikely to be interested in a short-range electric ‘Vette. The C8 is large for its class, but it’s hardly a Hummer EV with a 200-kWh, 3,000-pound acid mattress. GM has many patents on solid-state batteries, but commercialization is likely some years away.
At the very least, we know that many of these questions will be answered within the next several months. In the meanwhile, we reached out to Chevy for further information, but as of publication, we had yet to hear back.