All of us at some point in our collective lives have uttered the expression “The future is now.” Well, the future is now. While there will be plenty of “futures” to come, the one that I am speaking about is here, at least, for those of us who live in the world of the gasoline-powered internal combustion engine, more specifically the world of the high-performance V-8. Both Chevrolet (and that includes Corvette) and Ford (yes, I just typed the “F” word!) as recently as the day I am writing this editorial have published plans to reallocate corporate funds to go deeper and faster into electric car research.
In the interim, as far back as December 2015, General Motors filed for trademarks on the use of the wording “Corvette E-Ray” and “E-Ray.” We have come a long way from Sting Ray and Stingray, to E-Ray. Does this mean that there absolutely will be an E-Ray? No. But it doesn’t mean there absolutely won’t be, and with this latest information the latter seems not only possible but probable.
GM’s first truly serious attempt to produce an all-electric car goes back to 1996 and the EV1, and not just a hybrid. GM gathered its data and moved on from the EV1, and then along came 2010 and the Chevrolet Volt, of which several staff members around the office drive today. GM beat everyone to market with a viable hybrid. There’s no denying that the Volt fills a void and makes for an ideal form of local transportation but it does nothing for those who live for the visceral experience of sound, acceleration through the seat of your pants and the shear experience of a potent V-8 with loads of torque. Don’t get me wrong, an electric-powered anything has immediate acceleration and copious amounts of torque but there’s still something missing … the sound associated with a hugely powerful V-8 propelling you through the world.
Along comes 2016 and the Chevy Bolt (interesting name given we tend to think of “nuts and bolts” as a staple of the internal combustion V-8.). The Bolt, which is still expensive by normal standards, did crack the 200-plus-mile range (once they get to 300-400 miles and a three-prong plug on every corner, then we’ll be talking).
GM admits the future is electric but they also admit that a country (and a world) that has run, and is run, on staggering amounts of energy derived from fossil fuels won’t vanish overnight, but the change is coming.
What we don’t know at this time about the future of the E-Ray is will it be a true all-electric vehicle or a hybrid, possibly employing a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) that you may be familiar with from the world of racing. Will it show up in the C7 or C8 series? No one knows (or isn’t talking) as yet.
Corvette will for the foreseeable future carry the banner heralding performance but at some point in time performance is going to come out of a three-prong electric socket and not from the bowels of a deep-throated V-8. So, when is the E-Ray coming to a dealer near you? Not sure, but the oddsmakers tell us don’t be surprised to see one sitting on the showroom floor shortly after the end of this decade.
In speaking with one of our monthly contributors and Corvette aficionado supreme, Walt Thurn shared some of his input. “As for Corvette, what I am hearing is the mid-engine layout will be the perfect platform for hybrid (electric motor(s) driving the front wheels) or an all-electric option in near future. How far out this will happen is anyone’s guess. It would seem most likely to be in the next 5-7 years is my reasonable guess.”
To give a bit more perspective as to how serious Detroit is taking this “no more gasoline” agenda here are comments coming out of Ford. It has been reported, and Ford has issued public relations materials, that have stated Ford Motor Company will reinvest substantially more research and developments funds and programs toward building electric vehicles. The funds will come by way of cutting 33 percent from the internal combustion engine program. Ford also realizes to remain competitive in the world market there are many other nations that are pushing for electric now and don’t have the vested interest in the internal combustion engine as we do.
For those of us with hopped up V-8s it’s clear the times aren’t a changin’, they have changed. Be ready to plug in your next new Corvette. Vette