Although C8 Chevy Corvette production has been put on pause due to Corvid-19, the newly mid-engine sports car has already made plenty of positive impressions. The interior is truly luxurious, and the C8 Corvette is quick enough to keep up with the likes of the Porsche 911. However, recently mules have spotted that suggest an even higher-performance Corvette is on the way. And it’ll be a hybrid.
C8 Corvette hybrid mule spotted?
Both Motor Trend and Motor1 recently obtained spy shots of a disguised C8 Corvette. But the camouflage wasn’t the most interesting part. There’s a large machine attached to the Corvette’s rear, complete with numerous hoses snaking into the car’s exhaust.
Officially, Chevrolet has not commented on these photos, at the time of writing. However, MT reports the set-up looks very similar to how it tests vehicle fuel-efficiency and emissions. Considering the C8 Corvette has already reached production, there’d be little reason to emissions-test its V8. Clearly, this particular Corvette has something new installed. But there is some reason to believe this is indeed a hybrid test mule undergoing environmental and efficiency testing.
MT reported in November 2019 that a ‘highly-placed source’ at GM claimed there would be a range-topping C8 Corvette ZR1 with a 900-hp hybrid powertrain. In addition, this ZR1 would be the first all-wheel-drive Corvette. This particular mule appears to be decidedly not AWD, though.
Earlier test mules were spotted by Motor1 with electrical cables coming out of the Corvette’s front, along with big red ‘kill switches.’ However, that turned out to be an easy way to charge and disconnect the 12V battery during accessory testing. But MT reports this specific mule has a new electrical cut out located on the rear driver’s side panel. And again, why test an engine that’s already been cleared for sale?
It’s possible that Chevrolet simply modified an existing vehicle to test a new powertrain, which has happened before. In which case, this could be a very early-stage prototype of a hybrid C8 Corvette.
What we still don’t know
One of the biggest questions is where a hybrid C8 Corvette would put its battery pack.
Looking at photos of the Corvette’s bare body (aka the ‘body-in-white’), MT reports there’s a long, rectangular empty section running down the car’s length. Mounting the batteries in the center and low down would preserve the Corvette’s handling.
We also don’t quite know what other modifications Chevy would give a hybrid C8 Corvette. MT notes the racing-spec C8.R racing Corvette has numerous aerodynamic aides, like wings and diffusers. A street-legal car would obviously be somewhat subdued from that. However, as the Genovation GXE has shown, it’s perfectly possible to give the Corvette a big wing.
However, MT is reasonably-confident as to where the hybrid Corvette’s electric motors will go. There is allegedly enough room in the C8’s ‘frunk’ for a pair of electric motors. Not only would this provide AWD, but it would also allow the Corvette to effectively have two electronically-controlled limited-slip differentials.
It would also mimic systems found on other hybrid supercars, like the Porsche 918 Spyder.
How likely is a C8 Corvette hybrid?
According to MT, a hybrid C8 Corvette trim won’t arrive until the 2023 model year. However, as for how legitimate these reports are, a hybrid Corvette makes a certain amount of sense.
For one, that 2023 date closely matches the earliest date a potential hybrid Porsche 911 could be ready by. The current-gen 911 was designed with the potential for hybridization, having similar frunk space for electric motors. The two sports cars have always been rivals, and going hybrid is just the next step in that rivalry.
In addition, if Chevy wants the C8 Corvette to be a somewhat-affordable supercar, going hybrid would be a massive advantage. Right now, with the BMW i8 out of production, the cheapest-such car is the Acura NSX, which starts at $157,500. And it’s only got 573 hp. Other than that, the only hybrid supercars are the multi-million Porsche 918, McLaren P1, and Ferrari LaFerrari.
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