Chevrolet made the Corvette mid-engined for the first time in the nameplate’s 66-year history when it released the eighth-generation model in 2019, and the transformation might not be done yet. The latest Corvette will gain all-wheel drive and a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain — two more firsts — later in its production run, according to a recent report.
It’s no secret that the Corvette range will grow in the coming years with the addition of higher-performance models, like the Z06 and the ZR1. Motor Trend learned from anonymous insiders with accurate knowledge of Chevrolet’s plans that the latter model will arrive with some form of electrification and a total output in the vicinity of 900 horsepower. The hybrid powertrain is being designed with an unabashed emphasis on performance; this isn’t a Toyota Prius.
Jalopnik added to the report by speculating the hybrid system will consist of a small electric motor mounted under the frunk. It will draw power from a lithium-ion battery pack shoehorned inside the transmission tunnel. There will be no mechanical link between the front and rear axles, so the system will deliver through-the-road all-wheel drive, and the driver will have the option to turn the hybrid system off when the extra power it delivers isn’t needed.
What’s interesting is that the report suggests Chevrolet will ultimately offer two hybrid, all-wheel-drive versions of the Corvette. The first will be an electrified variant of the regular car. Its 550-plus-hp hybrid powertrain will be built around the 495-hp, 6.2-liter V8 that powers the standard model priced at $60,000. There’s no telling how much it will cost, but it will be positioned as an alternative to the Acura NSX, which is only offered as a hybrid. The second will be the aforementioned, 900-hp ZR1 developed with a bigger focus on performance. It will be V8-powered, but which engine it will receive remains a mystery. It likely won’t be Cadillac’s new 4.2-liter Blackwing, though.
Engineers are keeping weight in check by using relatively small components. The hybrid Corvette won’t have a jaw-dropping electric-only range, though it will be capable of driving at low speeds with its V8 off. And, the weight added by the electric motor will even out its weight distribution, which is heavily skewed towards the rear, to give it more neutral handling.
Chevrolet hasn’t commented on the rumors, and it hasn’t announced plans to take the Corvette into hybrid territory. If the reports are accurate, we expect to see the first all-wheel-drive, gasoline-electric ‘Vette by the end of 2020.