Here’s How the First Chevy Corvette AWD Drivetrain Works

Chevy opted for a similar system that’s appeared on other mid-engine, all-wheel drive supercars and sports cars that have cost much more.

byAaron Cole| PUBLISHED Jan 17, 2023 9:00 AM
Here’s How the First Chevy Corvette AWD Drivetrain Works
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It may have taken a while for the first all-wheel-drive Corvette to be produced, but it was only until recently that it could be possible for less than supercar money. The 2024 Chevy Corvette E-Ray that debuted Tuesday is not only the first all-wheel-drive Corvette but also the first Corvette with two propulsion systems. The first, a LT2 V-8 lump planted midships that makes 495 horsepower from 6.2 liters. The second is a 160-hp electric motor paired to a 1.9-kWh battery pack panted between the front seats. The two drivetrains combined create 655 horsepower and launch the Corvette to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds. 

“Corvettes must provide an exhilarating driving experience on backroads and tracks, and E-Ray nails it,” Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter said in a statement. “The electrification technology enhances the feeling of control in all conditions, adding an unexpected degree of composure.” 

The first Corvette with a powered front axle can use that propulsion in two scenarios, according to Chevy. The first is in “Stealth Mode,” which can silence the Corvette on neighborhood roads at speeds slower than 45 mph. Chevy said the E-Ray can travel on electrons only for as long as the 1.9-kWh battery lasts, which is about half the size of a battery in a typical Prius. That’s not likely to last much longer in the E-Ray than a handful of miles in a Corvette that weighs nearly 3,800 pounds. The second way is with the eAWD system kicks on for “enhanced track performance.” Although it doesn’t say if the system acts differently in the E-Ray’s Tour, Sport, Track, Weather, My Mode, or customizable Z-Mode, Chevy does say the E-Ray’s front wheels scratch out more traction when called upon on the track—and we've already seen how it reacts on the snow.

All of that sounds a lot like a through-the-road hybrid setup used most recently in the Acura NSX and BMW i8. Like the E-Ray, both of those cars offered a silent running mode and had separate power units for the front and rear wheels. And like the Corvette, neither the BMW nor that Acura aspired to be anything other than low-slung two doors. That’s what compact motors and batteries afford to sports cars opting for dual powertrains like the 2024 E-Ray. Until now, packaging prevented the possibility of anything less than $150,000. Chevy’s offer comes in one-third less than that.   

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