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New Hybrid Corvette Could Be Kryptonite for Tesla

A hybrid version of GM's beloved Corvette sports car could become a huge headache for Tesla, the leading producer of electric cars.
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It happened on January 17, 1953, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.

The event was the General Motors  (GM) - Get Free Report Autorama and the guest of honor was a concept vehicle that had been named after a warship and that would become a legend: the Corvette.

On June 30, the first production Corvette rolled off of the assembly line in Flint, Mich., and the car kept on going right into the American psyche.

On March 15, 1977, the 500,000th Corvette – a white coupe with red interior-- was produced in St. Louis, and a year later the fastback body style marked Corvette’s 25th year of production. 

An early advertisement for the Corvette hailed "a New Era in American Sports Cars" and in 1960, when two young guys decided to hit the road in the TV show "Route 66", the Corvette was their vehicle of choice.

In 1963 the Beach Boys sang that a "fuel-injected Stingray's really startin' to go," in "Shut Down." That's one of at least 20 tunes that mentioned the car, a list that naturally includes Prince's 1982 hit "Little Red Corvette."

Corvettes have appeared in such films as "Animal House," "Boogie Nights," "Corvette Summer," "Con Air" and 2009's "Star Trek," where a 1965 Corvette Stingray suffers a fate that must have had classic-car lovers weeping in their popcorn. 

A New Direction for 'America's Sports Car'

Fourteen presidents later and 70 years to the day of that Waldorf debut, GM announced a new direction for "America's Sports Car."

GM's 2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray hybrid will be available to consumers later this year with a starting price of $104.295. The convertible version will go for $111,295.

And it could provide a major challenge to the high end of the green-vehicle industry, particularly to electric-vehicle leader Tesla.  (TSLA) - Get Free Report

Among other things, the E-Ray features a 160-hp front-mounted electric motor and 495-hp mid-mounted 6.2-liter V-8 that add up to a combined 655 horsepower. 

The Corvette can go from zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds, while the all-electric Stealth Mode allows motorists to drive at short distances at limited speeds without annoying the neighbors.

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

The E-Ray's permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor is powered by a 1.1-kWh lithium-ion battery. 

While the E-Ray is a hybrid, it is not a plug-in. The all-wheel-drive vehicle's battery system will be charged as it slows and brakes and, at times, while it is being driven.

The vehicle will be produced at the company's Bowling Green Assembly facility in Kentucky.

The Bowling Green plant has produced over 1.1 million Corvettes since it opened in 1981. It's located a quarter-mile down the road from the National Corvette Museum.

Positive Reactions on Social Media

The E-Ray got some encouraging words on social media.

"2.5?? Faster than any porsche in the market, cheaper than turbo s, has better look interior in my opinion(looks sportier and little bit hardcore) and has V8 engine soi'd rather this and amg's than any porsche on the market," one poster said on Twitter.

"My next car," another person tweeted, along with a wink emoji. 

And one person posted a GIF on Sacha Baron Cohen's "Borat" character pumping his fists and declaring "Very Nice."

But one dissenter said that the "E-Ray at 104k does nothing for me, and EV only up to 45 mph is lame."

"I’m glad it’s being built, but I was really hoping for a Stingray PHEV, not a hybrid Z06." the poster added, referring to Plug-in Electric Vehicles," the tweet read.

Hybrids captured 3.2% of the light-vehicle market in 2013 and 5.5% in 2021, according to U.S. Department of Transportation statistics, while all-electric vehicles accounted for 3.2% of the light vehicle market in 2021.  

Toyota  (TM) - Get Free Report recently unveiled its newest version of the Prius, which the Japanese vehicle maker introduced in 1997.