In the world of gas-guzzling, high-performance all-American sports cars, there are few discussions had which don’t mention the iconic Chevrolet Corvette (or ‘Vette to fans). Born at the height of the 1950s automotive boom and leading Chevrolet’s sports car segment for the past half a century, the high-octane ‘Vette is probably the last car you think of when it comes to environmentally-responsible motoring.
But as GM Authority reported recently, Chevrolet’s parent company General Motors has just applied to trademark “Corvette E-Ray” and a shortened version, “E-Ray” — an obvious nod to its famous Corvette Stingray which maks us all wonder just what it has in store for the famous gas-guzzling brand.
The trademark filing, made on December 16th, specifies that both marks will be used by the Detroit automaker in the “Goods and Services” sector, with reference specifically to “Motor land vehicles, namely, automobiles.”
The two applications — serial number 86850510 and 86850500 respectively — could suggest that GM is considering an all-electric (or perhaps plug-in hybrid) version of its popular sports car. But while the prospect is certainly exciting, it’s worth remembering that the overwhelming majority of trademarks and patents filed with the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office never actually make it into commercial use.
If we assume however that the Corvette E-Ray will eventually make it onto a production vehicle, what kind of vehicle should we expect?
Just to be clear, what follows is our own speculation, based on what we know of General Motors’ electric vehicle programs and what we think an electric Corvette or plug-in hybrid Corvette would need in order to effectively cross-shop against other cars.
Firstly, any all-electric or plug-in hybrid Corvette would need to offer some significant power: at least 340 kilowatts to match the entry-level 2016 Corvette Stingray. While GM could get away with less power due to the way in which electric motors deliver maximum torque at zero rpm, we’d argue that anything less than 340 kilowatts would make a hypothetical Corvette E-Ray too underpowered to compete with the mighty Tesla Motors and the planned Mission E sports car from Porsche.
Secondly, this hypothetical E-Ray would need to retain its rear-wheel drivetrain in order to stay close to its roots and keep hardened ‘Vette fans happy. All-wheel drive could be a possibility — and would certainly improve performance and handling — but we can say for sure that front-wheel drive would definitely be out.
As for design? Keeping the center transmission tunnel from the current gasoline-powered Corvette models would make an ideal place for a T-shaped battery pack similar to that found in the 2016 Chevrolet Volt. Add in the latest high-power, high energy density pack from GM’s battery supplier LG Chem, and it’s certainly conceivable to imagine that a high-powered performance sports car is in the works.
Just as likely however, is a plug-in hybrid sports car, leveraging GM’s second-generation Voltec drivetrain and four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine to produce a high-performance sports car capable of around 30-40 miles of all-electric range alongside a combined gasoline + electric range of 400+ miles per fill.
For those of you laughing at the idea of an electrified Corvette, we’d like to remind you that GM has invested heavily in electrified vehicles of late. Its 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV — the first true long-range EV from GM — will debut late next year, less than 18 months after it was unveiled as a concept car. Other GM projects have received massive investment to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, including the installation of a massive photovoltaic solar array at the GM facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky — where the Chevrolet Corvette is made .
In the face of ever-tightening emissions and fuel economy regulations, there’s no arguing that the iconic Chevrolet Corvette needs a makeover to ensure it survives the transition to cleaner, greener fuels.
We — and the rest of the world — can’t wait to see what form that makeover will take.
Leave your suggestions as to what the E-Ray will look like — and how it will be powered — in the Comments below.
You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.