After substantial backlash from the Corvette community, the NCCC has done a U-turn on its stance on hybrid vehicles at its events.
Following news last month that the National Council of Corvette Clubs (NCCC) had banned the hybrid Corvette E-Ray from competing at its events, significant backlash has prompted a revised ruleset and a statement from the NCCC, with the ban now revoked and the Corvette E-Ray officially welcomed at NCCC events.
According to a statement from NCCC president Deb Murphy on the NCCC website, this is no longer the case:
"I would like to clarify the discussion at the November meeting compared to what has appeared across the media: Discussion concerned the electric cars (plug-in kind) that have caught fire. We did not include hybrid cars in that discussion. Hybrids are allowed at our competitions and E-Rays will be welcomed at our events."
While the rules have not yet been amended on the Council's website, Murphy has confirmed that section 1.8.14 will be amended to clarify the stance. Section 1.8.1 item 14 of the rulebook originally stipulated:
"Electric Vehicles/Hybrids using lithium type battery packs are prohibited in competitive events. If driven to NCCC events, they should be parked 30 feet minimum from structures or other vehicles."
This wording seemed clear that hybrids were included in the ban, but clarification on the matter is welcome, especially given the E-Ray's place in the Corvette lineup as the quickest model currently available. "I can't wait to see E-Rays competing at our events!" Murphy says in the statement.
So why the sudden change of heart? Well, one could argue there was simply a misprint of the rules in light of fires in EVs using lithium-ion batteries - particularly those from the General Motors stable - but we suspect there may be more to it than that.
At a recent General Motors event, we asked Corvette representatives about the ban and were told they had no comment at the time and were preparing a statement on the matter.
But in her statement on the NCCC site, Murphy talks about a conversation she had with National Corvette Museum board member and Corvette product marketing manager Harlan Charles.
Charles told Murphy about the extensive development the E-Ray went through prior to its launch, which included more than 1,500 track laps, of which much of this was continuous rather than just isolated laps, and "robust durability testing." He also reiterated that the E-Ray is fully compliant with NHTSA crash standards and in line with SAE and ISO standards for emergency responder access to critical hardware.
The battery is a minuscule 1.9 kWh pack, and it is housed within the central element of the chassis' transmission tunnel, protecting it from impact. Murphy also highlights that it self-monitors and can disengage if any measurements suggest thermal runaway is imminent.
While we can understand the concern for EV fires - as they have proven harder to contain than traditional ICE fires - the original ban seemed like an oversight. We're glad to see it has been overturned, and we look forward to seeing the E-Ray at NCCC events.
With 655 horsepower, the first-ever e-AWD system in a Corvette, a 0-60 mph time of 2.5 seconds, and a quarter-mile time of 10.5 seconds, the E-Ray is expected to be a hot performer wherever it goes. However, we suspect most E-Ray buyers - including those who camped in the cold to secure an order - are expected to treat it as a grand tourer, not a track toy.
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