It has long been rumored and all but confirmed that the C8 generation Corvette was to be the last V8-powered beast, and that the upcoming C9 generation in 2026, 2027, or thereabouts would be fully electric. Well, take those timelines and toss them out the nearest window, because GM has recently announced that they are moving up the hybridization and electrification schedules through a simple video that is only a minute long…
As the C8 Grand Sport and C8 ZORA hypercar with their performance hybrid powertrains are still upcoming, there is room in the lineup for a “regular” hybrid system to be incorporated. While nowhere near as powerful as the Grand Sport and ZORA will be, what a hybrid powertrain could bring to the table of the C8 depends on how GM and Chevrolet decide to implement it.
The first, and most common “efficiency” style hybrid, is pairing an electric motor on the axle with the power from the transmission of a car. This allows for the hybrid to drive the axle independently, or to combine its power with the regular engine to reduce the overall load on the said engine, saving gas. This is the setup your average Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid, and the like use.
The second implementation, which is what most sports car hybrid models use, is a transmission/transaxle system. This is where the electric motor can drive the transmission all on its own or is used to boost engine torque and power at lower revs to overcome inertia and get the car moving. It also is used to fill in the milliseconds between gear shifts on a DCT transmission, keeping acceleration and/or speed constant. The “Holy Trinity of Hypercars” all used this style of hybrid implementation, as well as including the third option.
A front wheel doesn’t chuck snow like that unless it’s powered…
The third option, and what the video at the top of this article potentially shows, is to have two separate powertrains controlled by a sophisticated computer. The V8 would power the rear wheels as per normal, but an electric motor on the front axle, or two motors if it’s per wheel, would provide power in an all-wheel-drive style of hybrid. The advantage here is that the setup allows for torque vectoring in cornering, which could pull the nose in harder, and launch the car out of a corner faster than the already impressive non-hybrid C8 can do. The bit of evidence in the video shows that this is probably the way the C8 hybrid is right at the start, with the front wheels “spinning up” a bit, chucking up snow. The only way a tire does that is if it is mechanically driven.
The other bit of important news regarding the Corvette C8 is in the video description, specifically the line “and a fully electric version to follow. Stay tuned for more.” Long expected to be the hallmark of the C9, with the current global push for electrification, GM seems to have decided that an electric C8 has a place in the market. The best thing about the current Corvette is that the chassis is already perfectly set up to handle the kind of setup that is becoming prevalent in electric sports cars, what is known as “the battery stack.”
Most people, when they think of electric cars, think of a skateboard-style system with the battery pack making up part of the floor of the chassis. What some manufacturers have found out, however, is that with batteries becoming lighter but also holding more juice, stacking them on top of each other in the approximate area that an engine would take up in a mid-mounted style setup allows that car to have the same feel as an engine powered supercar. This also allows for the driver and passenger seats to be mounted lower, as there isn’t a series of batteries in the way. In effect, lift the V8 out of the C8, drop in a battery stack with electric motors hooked up to it, and the already existing side scoops become cooling air intakes to flow air around the stack before that warmed air goes out the “exhaust.”
As the saying goes, however, “who knows what the future will bring.” All we can say is that we’re excited that a performance hybrid system is coming, far sooner than expected, to the All-American Sports Car.