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Corvette E-Ray
Corvette E-Ray, image provided by Chevrolet/GM

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Corvette E-Ray’s Carbon Fiber Wheels Give Us A Peek At Future PHEV & BEV Corvettes

Here at CleanTechnica, we’re definitely disappointed in the Corvette E-Ray. While a BEV would have been preferable, GM couldn’t even be bothered to make it a plugin hybrid with real EV range. But, we did find out something cool that we missed when the news first broke: that the E-Ray comes with some innovative lightweight wheels.

Just a few days ago, Carbon Revolution Limited — an industry-leading global producer of lightweight advanced carbon fiber wheels and a Tier 1 OEM supplier — declared that its remarkable wheel technology would be featured on the all-new 2024 Chevy Corvette E-Ray. GM revealed this second C8 model today; it is the first ever to incorporate electric power alongside its V8 engine as well as being the initial all-wheel drive Corvette. With these incomparable carbon fiber wheels from Carbon Revolution, you can enjoy enhanced performance while reducing weight.

Corvette C8 E-Ray owners are now able to choose from five-spoke Carbon Revolution carbon fiber wheels, produced at the company’s Waurn Ponds facility as an option for the 2024 model.

Carbon Revolution is now supplying its five-spoke Corvette wheels to the new 2021 Chevrolet C8 Z06 in mid-2022. For this specific variant, the front wheel measures 20” x 10” while the 21” x 13” rear has been recognized as being the widest carbon fiber wheel ever produced.

Tadge Juechter, Corvette’s Executive Chief Engineer, declared that the E-Ray — the first all-wheel drive electric-powered Corvette — broadens the capabilities of what a Corvette can offer. “Corvettes must provide an exhilarating driving experience on backroads and tracks, and E-Ray nails it. The electrification technology enhances the feeling of control in all conditions, adding an unexpected degree of composure,” Juechter said.

The wheel manufacturer thinks their technology will eventually become synonymous with electric vehicles.

“The world is shifting to electrification and new mobility, and Carbon Revolution wheels are an ideal solution for carmakers looking to improve efficiency and performance of electric vehicles,” Carbon Revolution CEO, Jake Dingle said. “The E-Ray will transform the C8 Corvette’s efficiency by offering hybrid power. The addition of Carbon Revolution wheels enhances the E-Ray’s performance and efficiency through a significant reduction in unsprung, rotational mass.”

Corvette E-Ray

The Corvette E-Ray, but stationary so you can see the wheels. Image provided by GM and Carbon Revolution.

Why We’re Still Disappointed, Even Though The Wheels Are A Nice Touch

GM’s announcement of the E-Ray is peculiar, as something it lists as a positive attribute would be seen by most individuals here as a defect: “There is no need for plug-in charging for the E-Ray’s battery system. The battery is charged via regenerative energy from coasting and braking, as well as during normal driving.”

All in all, this system would have been remarkable fifteen to twenty years ago (especially when combined with active fuel management and other resources for those who commute daily in a Corvette). However, it is now being advertised similar to Toyota’s “self-charging hybrids.” Not only was that statement incorrect, but it became so misleading that Toyota/Lexus currently are facing trouble from Norwegian authorities.

What makes this particularly sad is that GM was obviously capable of better.

Despite the common perception of Tesla fans that General Motors is stuck in the past, we must give credit where it’s due. It’s undeniable that Tesla has been ahead for quite some time, but GM has accomplished feats which other traditional automakers have yet to complete and has even exceeded expectations on several occasions (like its affordable sub-$30k EV with extended range and liquid cooling — something Tesla hasn’t done yet).

GM has proven that it is capable of producing plugin hybrids, too. All we have to look at is the Chevy Volt, which launched in 2010 and was still rolling off production lines as recently as 2019. Featuring an impressive 50-mile electric range capability, 7.2 kW level 2 charging capabilities, liquid cooling technology, and a reliable self-synchronizing clutch transmission system to ensure longevity, the Volt is evidence that GM can be motivated to create something revolutionary.

There’s also no reason GM couldn’t have produced a heavier-duty version of the Volt’s drivetrain to handle the power input from a heavy-hitting small block V8. GM has provided many Cadillac and Chevrolet models with transverse V8s, such as the Northstar DOHC V8 in conjunction with 4T80e transaxles. Similarly, GM also fitted some front-wheel drive cars from Chevrolet and Pontiac with a small block V8 coupled to a more robust 4T65e-HD transmission. This demonstrates that GM is fully capable of constructing a reliable transaxle for use in combination with any size engine, even one as powerful as an 8-cylinder.

When you consider that the gas-only Z06 C8 corvette already has a 0-60 time of 2.5 seconds, it’s really in spitting distance of EVs and supercars like the Tesla Plaid, Lucid Sapphire, and the top-performing gas-powered supercars. Adding in some serious electric power, and not just some auxiliary power for the front wheels, would have given Chevrolet the opportunity to play with the biggest players and keep the Corvette relevant.

GM May Yet Do This, & Carbon Fiber Wheels Will Definitely Be Part Of That Formula

At the same time, though, it’s entirely possible (and likely) that the Corvette E-Ray was just the opening act in Chevy’s electrification play for the Corvette. GM might have a serious plugin hybrid Corvette coming next, and might even go for the full nine yards and produce a BEV version of the Corvette that competes with the upcoming second-gen Tesla Roadster.

While it’s probably easier than sneaking into Area 51, GM is still pretty tight-lipped about its future plans for the Corvette, and you can’t just walk into a garage to see what it’s working on. There’s tight security and GM is certainly not going to let me in the way Aptera did. So, like everybody else, we’ll have to wait to see what happens.

But, one thing does seem certain. Carbon fiber wheels give benefits for every car’s handling, but give EVs some real advantages for speed and range, too. It seems extremely likely that we’ll see these lightweight carbon fiber wheels on future plugin hybrid or full BEV Corvettes, and that’s exciting news in spite of our disappointment with the E-Ray.

Featured image provided by Chevrolet/GM.

 
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Written By

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

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