There is nothing more American than the Corvette and its front-mounted V8 engine. Nothing. Not even the Mustang, baseball or Las Vegas. The V8 screams freedom of the open road. But that potent formula that’s been in use since the beginning might be getting slightly tweaked. GM’s VP of global engineering, Karl Stracke, mentioned to AutoWeek that the next Corvette might go hybrid to keep up with the rest of the sports car world. Blasphemy? Nope. Awesome.
The Corvette is nearly America’s 911 in that not much has changed since the very beginning. Where the modern-day Porsche 911 is remarkable similar to the 1963 original in every regard, the Corvette has gently evolved over time in both appearance and technology. In-line sixes powered the car for the first two years of its life, but then a V8 was offered as an option for the 1955 model and eventually went on to be the standard. Then the C2 model then set the styling cues for every future generation. But we’re at a turning point, though, and GM has two options: Stay the current course with big engines and get lapped by the best of Europe and Asia or follow the evolutionary trend, and turn the Corvette into a hybrid.
Nearly every auto company sells hybrid vehicles now and fuel economy is only one of the reasons. Sure, hybrids are typecasted as green vehicles thanks to the likes of the Prius and Insight, but the electric motor offers a few advantages for sports cars as well. Mainly that they provide on-demand torque not available with a gasoline engine. Drive the all-electric Tesla and you’ll be amazed at the face-smashing acceleration. But then gasoline engines, combined with clever gearboxes, can do things electric vehicles only dream about. That’s where a hybrid steps in and why auto companies like Ferrari and Porsche are currently exploring the same hybrid sports car idea.
The hybrid powertrain would also no doubt help GM hit the latest CAFE regulations by increasing its halo car’s EPA fuel rating, but also retain the Corvette’s claim of a world class sports car. Think about it: a hybrid powertrain would likely help out primarily during acceleration while Detroit’s latest V8 handles the blistering flat-out speeds. It would be perfect for tracks and roads alike. Combine this powertrain with the ZR-1’s suspension and you have a Nürburgring killer. (again)
As of right now, though, this is all rumor and speculation as GM hasn’t made anything official just yet. Stracke did strike-down the mid-engine, twin-turbo V6 rumors previously making their way around the car blogs. That’s fine. A hybrid Corvette is significantly more interesting than a baby-Ferrari-thing. America would not take to seeing its iconic sports car turned into a European clone. [via Autoblog]