Chevy Corvette plug-in hybrid performance monster coming, Lutz speculates


2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible

In almost six decades on sale, the Chevrolet Corvette has become a pop culture icon as well as a mainstay of American performance.

So wouldn't it be a coup for electric cars if Chevy added a plug-in hybrid powertrain to the Corvette?

GM is now developing the eighth-generation Corvette, and no less of a personage than former GM product czar Bob Lutz believes the new model will get a plug-in hybrid option.

CHECK OUT: Well, Why NOT a (750-Horsepower) Chevrolet Corvette Hybrid? (Sep 2009)

GM is giving the next-generation Corvette—known as the C8—a longer development period in order to add a plug-in powertrain, Lutz speculated in an e-mail to The Detroit News.

The C8 will start production in late 2018, and go on sale in 2019, the paper says.

Lutz predicts "10- to 15-mile plug-in electric capability," courtesy of a lithium-ion battery pack no larger than 5 kilowatt hours.

2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, white

2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, white

He also expects the plug-in Corvette to achieve 50 mpg city in EPA testing.

Such a powertrain would mark a dramatic change in what is already expected to be one of the most radical Corvette redesigns in the model's history.

Numerous publications have speculated that the next Corvette will drop the front-engine layout used since the model's inception for a mid-engine design.

ALSO SEE: Chevy Corvette Hybrid: Not Nearly As Horrifying As Purists Think (Sep 2013)

GM has toyed with this idea as far back as the 1960s, building many mid-engine Corvette prototypes and concept cars but never committing to production.

In addition, the plug-in hybrid powertrain could enable another production Corvette first: all-wheel drive.

That would be enabled by an electric motor mounted to the front axle, augmenting the traditional rear-wheel drive internal-combustion setup, Lutz speculates.

2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, yellow

2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, yellow

While it doesn't have quite as long a history, the idea of a hybrid or plug-in hybrid Corvette has been discussed before.

Back in 2013, GM president Mark Reuss called a hybrid Corvette a "very attractive idea," noting that such a car could compete with anticipated high-performance hybrid models from other manufacturers.

MORE: Corvette Could Go Hybrid, Says GM Head Engineer; World To End? (Aug 2010)

Since Reuss made that comment, Acura launched the hybrid 2017 NSX supercar, and Nissan has discussed using a hybrid powertrain in the next generation of its GT-R.

Prior to that, in 2010, GM vice president of global vehicle engineering Karl-Friedrich Stracke said a hybrid Corvette was an "interesting idea."

2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Collector Edition

2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Collector Edition

Unlike the mid-engine Corvette, though, GM hasn't shown any hybrid prototype or concept cars to the public.

All electrified Corvettes so far have been of the homebrew variety.

One notable example is the all-electric GXE, built by a startup called Genovation.

The 700-horsepower Corvette recently achieved a land-speed record for street-legal electric cars, reaching 205.6 mph on a Florida track.

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