On December 16th, General Motors filed for trademarks on the terms “E-RAY” and “CORVETTE E-RAY” in the Automobiles category with the US Patent and Trademark Office, leading to speculation about whether the General had concrete plans to produce either an all-electric or hybrid Corvette. You may recall that back in 2014, the trademarking of the name “Zora” led to a similar flurry of supposition about a mid-engined, range-topping “super-Corvette,” but then again, you probably didn’t hear about GM putting in requests to register “Spark Activ,” “Badlands,” “Enclave Tuscan,” or “Regal TourX” either.
To some extent, trademark filings are a bit of corporate CYA – General Motors has an intellectual property division of their legal department, and in terms of resources it’s not a particularly taxing process to just go out and register anything that you might possibly want to use later. Just look up why Ford’s supercar is just the GT and not the GT40 if you want a real world example of why automakers should trademark everything in sight. With that in mind, the E-RAY filing could very well be the result of a note in the margins of some internal meeting, rather than a hint of things to come.
Chevrolet has already demonstrated a ready-for-prime-time V8 hybrid drivetrain with the 2008-2013 Tahoe.
On the other hand, the success of the Tesla Model S P85D shows that there’s a market for an electric car that can run a 2.8 second 0-60 time, and Chevrolet could certainly use the Corporate Average Fuel Economy benefit of replacing a few Z06 sales with something that delivers a better number in the fleet-wide calculation.
If you’d ask us to guess, we’d say a hybrid is more likely than a pure electric Corvette; one look at the Spark EV’s spec sheet compared to the Volt shows that GM’s all-electric mojo still isn’t quite where it needs to be to go head to head with Tesla, and a performance hybrid would make more sense. Something akin to the discontinued 2008-2013 Tahoe Hybrid would seem to be in GM’s comfort zone, and an LT1 with electric assist would be a formidable powerplant indeed.