First Look: 2024 E-Ray

The first-ever “electrified” Corvette promises shocking performance in a user-friendly package

Photo: First Look: 2024 E-Ray 1
March 23, 2023

Readers over the age of 40 will likely remember the GMC Syclone, a short-lived high-performance pickup truck that hit the automotive world like, well, a severely disruptive meteorological event in the early 1990s. Equipped with a turbocharged and intercooled version of GM’s stalwart 4.3-liter V-6, this psycho Sonoma was capable of squirting from zero to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds, a feat few automobiles at any price could match at the time.

While the Syclone’s blown six made a healthy (for the era) 280 horsepower, the key to the truck’s accelerative prowess lay in its incorporation of both a standard all-wheel-drive system and the same four-speed automatic transmission employed in the L98 Corvette. Consequently, there was no clutch to slip, no tire spin to manage—just a big, fat wallop of torque (350 pound-feet, to be precise) that punted the 3,600-pound pickup out of the hole like a tasered cheetah.

Which brings us, in roundabout fashion, the matter of the 2024 Corvette E-Ray, the latest and arguably the most technologically ambitious automobile in the marque’s 70-year history. The car, which will go on sale later this year, weighs a couple hundred pounds more than GMC’s little pickup that could but musters more than twice as much engine output—655 hp, to be precise—allying it with Corvette’s first AWD system and the C8’s excellent dual-clutch trans.

As one might expect, this shotgun marriage of grunt and grip yields eye-opening results, most notably a claimed 2.5-second 0-60 sprint that confers upon the E-Ray the title of quickest-accelerating production Corvette ever made. Stay in it, and a quarter-mile dash of 10.5 seconds at 130 mph proves there’s plenty more juice in the tank once traction ceases to be a factor.

Impressive stuff, but Corvettes have steadily been getting speedier for years, and even the RWD C8 Stingray is a hard-launching car, thanks to its roughly 40/60 weight distribution. What really sets the E-Ray apart is its powertrain, which comprises both a 495-hp LT2 V-8 from the base Stingray and a permanent-magnetic-drive electric motor channeling an additional 160 horses and 125 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels. Chevrolet calls this arrangement “eAWD” and describes the E-Ray as the “first-ever electrified Corvette,” presumably to avoid any negative connotations associated with the “hybrid” label.

Photo: First Look: 2024 E-Ray 2

But whatever the nomenclature, the E-Ray is a groundbreaking addition to the Corvette family, and the first step in what we expect to be the gradual electrification of the entire model line in the years ahead. As such, it deserves a closer look here.

A Different Kind of Hybrid

Unlike the racy Z06, with its exotic, flat-plane-crank engine, the E-Ray is very much a “Stingray Plus,” inasmuch as it takes the basic C8 platform and augments it with technologies that meaningfully improve the car’s performance and usability.

When it comes to punching up engine output, the star of the show is a 1.9-kWh LG battery pack located in the central tunnel, between the seats. This supplies the aforementioned power boost via a compact electric drive motor mounted over the front axle, where it doles out extra torque to the front wheels as conditions and driver demands warrant. (When not scrabbling for traction on slippery pavement or dicing it up on a road course, the car relies solely on its conventional V-8, powering the rear wheels, for propulsion.)

Though it features a magnesium-and-aluminum housing, the motor and its associated shock-tower brace do add more than 250 pounds to the nose of the car, shifting the E-Ray’s weight balance forward by around two percentage points. Helping to offset the increased poundage are standard carbon-ceramic brakes and a lithium-ion battery for the LT2. Also on the upside, the extra suspension bracing is claimed to improve steering feel over the un-braced C8 Stingray.

In contrast to most hybrid—er, electrified—vehicles, the E-Ray does not count improved fuel economy as a primary selling point over its exclusively gas-powered counterpart. Instead, Chevrolet is relying on the car’s superior speed and enhanced usability to set it apart from its C8 line mates.

Photo: First Look: 2024 E-Ray 3

“We have not tested EPA numbers yet for E-Ray,” GM’s Trevor Thompkins told us, “but ultimately the performance and the expansion of scenarios where you can drive a Corvette, with all-wheel drive and also a standard all-season tire, are the real selling point.”

Still, it’s likely that the E-Ray will evince some benefit in the realm of operational efficiency, even if that benefit is only modestly reflected in the EPA’s standardized test cycle. As Thompkins explains, “The front axle motor will allow for scenarios where Active Fuel Management in the V-8 has an extended operational range because the front axle can fill in torque to meet the driver’s needs.”

Another area in which the latest C8 diverges from E-car orthodoxy is the manner in which it recharges its battery. This is not, Chevy stresses, a plug-in hybrid. Instead the E-Ray uses its conventional V-8 engine, along with regenerative coasting and braking, to keep the pouch-type LG unit topped off.

As for the eAWD system, “intelligent” operation allows it to deploy varying amounts of torque to the front wheels as needed, whether to maintain purchase on a slippery surface or to maximize performance on a racetrack. Combined with standard Magnetic Ride Control, it should make the E-Ray even easier and more predictable to drive at or near the limit than the (already quite forgiving) Stingray.

Spotting an E-Ray in the wild should be a cinch. Just look for the wider (by 3.6 inches) bodywork from the Z06, but with body-color, instead of black, trim. The car also shares its wheel sizes (20×10-inch front, 21×13-inch rear) with the Z, but foregoes that model’s racy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires in favor of Pilot Sport all-season rubber. The standard aluminum wheels use an understated, twisted-five-spoke design that’s specific to the E-Ray.

Photo: First Look: 2024 E-Ray 4

Identity Crisis?

That the E-Ray not only performs on par with the line-topping Z06 but looks like it as well would seem to pose a dilemma for Chevy’s marketing department, since the two cars will likely vie for dollars among the same relatively small customer demographic. Who, then, represents the target buyer for each of these uplevel C8 models?

As Chevy representatives explained to us (see accompanying piece), the E-Ray is positioned as a friendly, approachable supercar, one capable of operating year-round, regardless of weather conditions. That it offers the potential to increase cruising range in certain driving environments (chiefly urban use) is icing on what is already a pretty appealing cake.

The Z06 requires a more devoted partner, one willing to endure its flintier ride, summer-only rubber, and hairier handling dynamics in exchange for several tenths on a racetrack and the most glorious-sounding V-8 engine this side of Maranello. This Bowling Green Bolide makes no excuses but gives no quarter.

Whether that difference is enough to sell both Corvette models in the desired volumes remains to be seen, but we wouldn’t underestimate the brand’s devotees when it comes to their appetite for the latest and greatest hardware. It’s even conceivable that a sufficiently well-heeled enthusiast might own one of each, to be deployed as climate and mood dictate.

Regardless of what it represents, and to whom, it’s clear that the latest C8 model marks a watershed moment in the Corvette’s 70-year evolution. As we speed toward an all-electric future, the E-Ray is a vehicle that proudly stands on its merits while heralding a new chapter in the story of America’s Sports Car.

Sidebar: E-Ray In Focus

The word “hybrid” lives near the top of many enthusiasts’ hate list. While Toyota Priuses and Chevy Volts are fine for novice motorists, goes the thinking, those serious about driving wouldn’t be caught dead behind the wheel of a car propelled by gas and electricity.
That, sports fans, is about to change. The 2024 Corvette E-Ray arriving later this year is one electrified vehicle worth owning because it will be the quickest Corvette ever to roll off the Bowling Green assembly line. It should also be noted that cars in the top GTP class that raced this January at the Rolex 24 Daytona class are also gas-electric hybrids.
As noted in our main article, the E-Ray is steeped in advanced technology. Corvette Executive Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter and Corvette Chief Engineer Josh Holder kindly shared the most interesting features they baked into this third model in the C8 generation.

When C8 engineering commenced circa 2015, in addition to the mid-engine revolution, various powertrains were planned for rollout during this generation’s lifespan. In most respects C8 was a clean-sheet design, but a few proven features were carried over. One was a central structural tunnel introduced for the C5, when the transmission moved to the rear. Another was aluminum for the space frame, introduced on the 2006 Z06.
It’s worth noting that a hybrid C8 was planned from the very start, along with the intention of stashing the battery pack needed to power an electric motor, driving the front wheels, inside the car’s hollow central spine.

Battery Pack
The C8’s tunnel, running between the seats, is approximately 11 inches tall, 6 inches wide, and 63 inches long. This yields a 2.5-cubic-foot compartment ideal for housing the battery pack, the DC-AC/AC-DC inverter, and related coolant lines.
The 80 pouch-type lithium-ion battery cells, made by LG Energy, use a chemistry different from the Ultium batteries used in electrified models from the Cadillac, GMC, and Chevrolet. The E-Ray’s cells are tuned for performance, versus the other GM hybrids’ range-oriented tuning.
To expedite the power flow into and out of the battery pack, electrical capacity is a relatively small 1.9 kWh. Still, that’s twice the capacity of the new Toyota Prius hybrid. In normal driving, only 1.1 kWh of electrical capacity are used to maximize longevity. Other reasons for the smallish battery are to minimize the E-Ray’s curb weight and to avoid downsizing its cargo space.
As noted, the E-Ray is not a plug-in hybrid. Instead, there are three battery-charging modes. During lift-throttle and braking applications, the AC motor acts as a generator, what’s called “regen.” After the battery is discharged by aggressive acceleration—such as quarter-mile runs—recharging takes place during the return to the starting line. A third mode called Charge+, selectable by the driver, will fully replenish the battery in a mile or two
by combining extra engine output with the motor again acting as a generator. During ordinary driving, E-Ray’s battery is fully recharged in three or so miles.

Electric Motor
GM’s Brownstown, Michigan, plant manufactures the permanent-magnet AC motor residing between E-Ray’s front wheels below the “frunk.” It’s only 7 inches in diameter—roughly the size of a coffee can—and produces an enthusiastic 160 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque.
This motor drives an open differential through an 8.2:1 reduction gear. To avoid parasitic losses, a dry-sump arrangement lubricates the front drive equipment, which is housed inside a magnesium casting held together with aluminum fasteners. Holder points out that it was a serious design challenge to keep the front-drive equipment, electrical cables, and cooling lines compact enough to avoid a loss of frunk space.

Silent Running
E-Ray owners who rise early for their work commute can engage Stealth mode with a console knob, back out of the garage, and politely leave their neighborhood propelled by the car’s dead-quiet electric motor. This strategy works for a few miles, up to 45 mph. Interestingly, the AC motor can drive the E-Ray both forward and in reverse.

Rear-Drive Equipment
The LT2 6.2-liter V-8 in back provides the same 495 horsepower available in the C8 Stingray. Active Fuel Management—deactivating two cylinders during cruising—helps maximize mpg.
One change to the Tremec eight-speed dual-clutch transaxle (DCT) is the addition of an electric hydraulic pump, to enable clutch operation without the engine running. The Stingray’s engine-driven hydraulic pump remains in place.
Weight-Saving Measures
The E-Ray is 400 pounds heavier than the Stingray and 275 pounds heavier than the Z06, thanks to added equipment such as the AC motor, battery pack, and three new cooling loops. To offset this, the battery pack housing is composite plastic. Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes rotors (optional on the Z06) are standard E-Ray equipment, and the 12-volt battery that cranks the LT2 V-8 is a lighter lithium-ion design.
Weight distribution is 41/59 (front/rear), versus the Stingray and Z06’s 40/60.

Chassis Changes
To clear space for front half-shafts between the differential and each front wheel, the coil-over damper units were moved upward. A new cross brace spanning upper anchor points improves structural stiffness.

Thanks to its AWD traction, the E-Ray overcomes its greater curb weight to beat the Stingray to 60 mph by 0.4 seconds and the Z06 by 0.1 second. Its 2.5 second 0-60 mph time also tops most of the European-built hyper-hybrids on the market. Chevrolet estimates the E-Ray’s quarter-mile clocking at a remarkable 10.5 seconds at 130 mph. The electric motor’s assist ceases at 150 mph, when loss of traction is less of an issue.
While EPA fuel economy ratings aren’t complete, the E-Ray should top the Stingray’s 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway performance by 1-2 mpg.

The E-Ray’s skidpad cornering grip easily tops 1.0g, in part because Z06-size (275/30ZR-20 and 345/25ZR-21) all-season tires are fitted beneath the wider bodywork the two cars share.
Like the Stingray, the E-Ray has six available driving modes: Tour, Sport, Track, Weather, My Mode, and Z-Mode. There’s also the aforementioned Charge+ feature that maximizes battery charging.
To assure that the two powertrains play nicely together, the Corvette engineering team invested ample development hours creating several new control strategies. Excellent cornering stability should make the E-Ray easier to drive than the tuned-for-the-track Z06. The scribes who’ve enjoyed early right-seat rides report that drifting the new car is a breeze.
Citing lethal weapons, Corvette engineers liken their Z06 to bringing a gun to a knife fight. In comparison, the more versatile E-Ray is their Swiss Army Knife. During testing and development, deep snow combined with steep grades barely challenged the E-Ray’s mobility.

Optional Equipment
As with the Stingray, personalizing an E-Ray to one’s tastes should be a breeze. There are four available finishes for the aluminum wheels; 14 exterior colors (including new-for-’24 Seawolf Gray, Cacti, and Riptide Blue); model-exclusive Electric Blue racing stripes (shown in the accompanying article); three styles of carbon-fiber wheels; eight interior trim colors; and three seat styles.
Chevy is also using the E-Ray debut to introduce a ’24-only interior treatment called Artemis Dipped, which sounds like an exotic ice-cream dessert but in fact involves “complementary deep green tones on nearly every interior surface.”

Perhaps realizing that the C8 Stingray, essentially every working stiff’s Ferrari, was priced much too low, GM spotted E-Ray pricing just below the Z06’s sticker. The 1LZ coupe starts at $104,295, while the convertible costs $111,295. You won’t find a quicker, more technologically impressive sports car for less.

Also from Issue 161

  • 1996 Grand Sport SN 0001
  • 560-hp Pro Street C1
  • Market Report: C3
  • Canada-Market ’68 Coupe
  • Callaway-Supercharged ’07 Coupe
  • Racing: ’23 Season Preview
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