Porsche is doing it. So is Ferrari. Even Lamborghini is toying with the idea of hybrid supercars. So if all the cool kids are doing it, why shouldn’t GM get in on the action of turning their sports cars into hybrids?
They may in fact be doing just that. After going out of their way to squash rumors about a mid-engine Corvette (where the engine sits behind the seats, rather than under the hood), GM vice president of global engineering Karl-Friedech Stracke let slip that the idea of a hybrid Corvette is “an interesting idea.” Interesting indeed.
Rumors have been swirling in Corvette circles that the next generation Corvette could be mid-engine. This happens pretty much every time a new Corvette design is due, and a new Corvette is due sometime in the next few years. The latest rumors came about after an unnamed Saab engineer claimed to have worked on a wet-clutch system for a mid-engine Corvette. Stracke made it perfectly clear that is not the case. However, when AutoWeek asked him about a hybrid powertrain in the Corvette, Stracke said “That is an interesting idea.”
It is no secret that upcoming fuel economy standards are going to take some of the punch out of the increasing performance numbers we’ve seen lately. 400 horsepower is the new standard for muscle cars, and many imports aren’t that far behind. Can we have 400 horsepower and 35 mpg though? It will be quite a stretch to do that on V8 engines alone. A hybrid Corvette, however, with something like an electric assist or “mild hybrid” system could very easily attain 35 mpg or better. Let us not forget, the Corvette is both aerodynamic and light. Hybrid muscle cars could be next.
“You could keep a normal powertain configuration for a small amount of very excited car enthusiasts,” Stracke said. “And turn 80 to 90 percent of your sports-car portfolio to hybridization.” That would let GM and other companies meet fuel economy standards, while charging a premium for drivers who still want their V8 engines. It will be interesting to see how this all turns out.
Source: AutoWeek | Image: GM