Corvette Takes An Interesting Turn On The Road To Sustainability

Sustainability is top of mind for many consumers — and for good reason. Over 20 million hectares of forest were cleared in 2020, and the average global temperature has risen by 2 degrees Fahrenheit within the last century.

Corvette Takes An Interesting Turn On The Road To Sustainability
Over 20 million hectares of forest were cleared in 2020 alone.

That being said, it’s worth noting that renewable energy sources like solar power can help remedy issues like these if employed on a wider scale than they are now.

Among these man-made issues, carbon emissions remain the top concern. Greenhouse gases are the main contributor to global warming. Each year, human activity emits roughly 43 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Additionally, the transportation sector is the second largest contributor of emissions, accounting for 20.5% of all carbon emissions. Consequently, governments, investors and consumers are seeking more sustainable solutions from the automotive industry.

Corvette Takes An Interesting Turn On The Road To Sustainability
Each year, human activity emits roughly 43 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The Push for Sustainability

Unsurprisingly, automakers have risen to the challenge and adopted various sustainability initiatives. In the past few years, the automotive value chain has undergone a major overhaul. Now, many factories run on renewable energy, automakers build cars with renewable, raw materials and some companies even reuse and refurbish old vehicles to minimize waste.

The most notable contribution to automotive sustainability may be the creation and production of electric vehicles. The first successful electric car made its U.S. debut around 1890. Over the next 10 years, many innovators like Ferdinand Porsche began improving its technology. Around 1898, Porsche released the first hybrid vehicle. A year later, electric cars accounted for one-third of all vehicles on the road.

Of course, Henry Ford’s affordable Model T and low gas prices dealt a blow to the electric car at the turn of the 20th century. However, as gas prices rose and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expressed concerns about pollution, General Motors (GM) began investing in electric vehicles again. In 1996, they released the EV1, marking the revival of hybrids and electrics.

Since then, GM has announced that it’s ending a long-standing relationship with gasoline and diesel to embrace a zero-emissions future. The company’s path to an all-electric fleet includes a commitment to 30 new global electric vehicles by 2025, one of which may be an electric Corvette.

A Hybrid Option for Stingrays

According to recent rumours, Chevrolet may be making a partially electric Corvette Stingray. More specifically, the automaker will offer an electric all-wheel-drive (eAWD) option on the Stingray and Convertible models by 2023. With this option, electric motors would power the front wheels, making these vehicles hybrid electric sports cars.

Corvette Takes An Interesting Turn On The Road To Sustainability
The partially electric Corvette Stingray.

If the rumours are true, this development would be a huge step in making sports cars more sustainable. Plus, the Stingray would be the first Corvette with an AWD option. While intriguing, this next step isn’t exactly a surprise. The Stingray’s powertrain design lends itself to electrification, even if it’s only a hybrid for now.

However, it’s still unclear how the eAWD would fit into an electric C8 Corvette. Will Chevrolet use one or two electric motors? Will the hybrid Stingray be a plug-in model and offer an electric-only mode for short trips? Only GM would know.

There’s also no way to be sure whether Chevrolet can stick to a three-year timeline. The coronavirus pandemic has taken a major toll on the automotive industry. Economists forecast that sales in Europe and the U.S. won’t rebound to pre-COVID-19 levels for at least three years.

Consequently, you might not see an eAWD Corvette until 2024 or later.

The company is also busy making various other hybrid and electric vehicles, which could slow the process even more. GM is still a year away from the production of the Hummer EV Pickup and the release of the 2022 Bolt EUV. Plus, they have more than a dozen other models to work on to successfully pave the way for zero emissions.

A Hybrid Corvette C8 ZR1

Despite the extended timeline, many Chevrolet fans are eagerly awaiting a fully electric Corvette. Some expect the C8 ZR1 to be the first one. Joe Biden even added fuel to the rumours by saying he was looking forward to an electric Corvette that can go 200 miles per hour. However, a senior official at GM has since revealed that this hypercar will most likely come with a hybrid system.

Still, a hybrid Corvette is nothing to sneer at. Many gearheads expect it to be the fastest mid-engine Corvette around a road course. It’ll contain a twin-turbo DOHC V-8 engine and reach 900 horsepower, offering powerful performance rather than optimal fuel economy. Meanwhile, the hybrid system will fill in torque gas. Due to this power boost, the ZR1 will almost certainly cost more than the Stingray.

If the ZR1 surprises everyone and doesn’t end up coming with a hybrid system, Corvette lovers won’t have to wait long for a model that does. Leaked documents reveal that Chevrolet will release the Corvette Zora in 2025. The hypercar will pack a more powerful punch than the ZR1 with an output of 975 pounds of torque and 1,000 horsepower. A battery pack will run along the centre of the vehicle, and an electric motor will sit in the front storage cavity to power the front wheels.

Will Corvette Go Fully Electric?

Given GM’s commitment to zero emissions, a fully electric Corvette is likely inevitable. However, there’s no definitive model year as of now. The technology simply isn’t there yet. Still, the upcoming hybrid models do signal a hopeful future for Chevrolet and fully electric hypercars, trucks, SUVs and sedans.

Recently, GM moved the engineering team responsible for the mid-engine Corvette to the electric and autonomous vehicles program. They’re now pushing the boundaries on what future EV battery systems can do. This change follows a series of announcements and investments into the electric and autonomous vehicles program and various projects related to the production and launch of all-electric trucks. Meanwhile, GM continues to build a factory to mass-produce battery cells and packs.

If GM and Chevrolet continue to make such huge strides on the path to sustainability, they may achieve zero emissions sooner than anyone would have anticipated.

Oscar Collins

Oscar Collins is the managing editor at Modded, where he writes about a variety of topics, including the most recent trends in tech. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for regular updates!