The first ever e-Vette was built three decades ago – and you can buy it HERE, as Dan Mihalascu discovers:
General Motors is rumored to be plotting an all-electric Corvette family for debut by 2025, with products expected to include a four-door model and an SUV. While reports about turning Corvette into an EV brand haven’t been officially confirmed yet, the electric Corvette models reportedly coming by mid-decade won’t be the first-ever battery-powered Vettes. For that, we have to rewind to the winter of 1993 – 30 years before the Corvette E-Ray – when hardware tech company Motorola converted a 1987 Corvette C4 convertible to battery-electric power.
The unique project was the brainchild of electrical engineer Sanjar Ghaem, the director of technology of Motorola’s automotive division. He pitched electric powertrains to the upper management, claiming they will “future-proof the business.” Together with a colleague called Ken Gerbetz, Ghaem set out to built a demo model for Motorola to display.
They built a single-seater race car called EX-11 that beat both Toyota and GM at the 1993 Arizona Public Service Solar and Electric 500 competition. The win impressed Motorola’s top brass, so Ghaem and Gerbetz pitched a more ambitious project – a muscle car conversion.
Using the electric powertrain previously fitted to the EX-11 and $25,000 from Motorola, the team built the first-ever all-electric Corvette at the company’s Northbrook, Illinois, facility. First discovered by The Drive at a salvage yard in Illinois last year, the cherry red Vette popped up for sale recently on eBay (via Electrek), so if you’re interested in adding such a rare and mysterious piece of automotive history to your collection, the price is $100,000. Located in Gurnee, Illinois, the electric Chevrolet Corvette one-off comes with full documentation – 12 pounds of documents, build sheets, manuals, and schematics, according to the listing. Seller Auto Parts City claims the car is in “wonderful” cosmetic condition, except some clear coat fade on the hood. The interior is also said to be in “excellent” condition for the year. The car is being sold with a clean and clear title, and its odometer reads 64,624 miles. You should not be put off by that, though, because the car had covered most of the mileage – around 64,000 miles – before the conversion.
Now, there are many unknowns regarding this prototype, particularly its electric drivetrain. No battery or electric motor specs are available, but we do know the car has the original four-speed manual transmission that drives the rear wheels. It was also able to match the performance of contemporary gas-powered sports cars, according to The Drive. The photos show several battery packs mounted in the engine compartment, in the trunk, and some possibly in the floorboards, housed in big silver “high-voltage” boxes. We can’t know for sure, buy they appear to be deep-cycle batteries, likely with nickel-metal hydride chemistry like in the contemporary GM EV1 or maybe lead-acid batteries.
What’s certain is the batteries will need to be replaced to get the car back on the road, as the car has been in storage for almost 30 years. The seller says the Chevrolet Corvette EV does not currently run and drive, so whoever buys it needs to spend more money to get it in working condition. Original batteries will probably be impossible to find, but imagine the performance that can be unlocked using modern lithium-ion batteries.