Did you know there was an electrified Chevrolet
Corvettemade in the early 1990s? A fully-functional prototype of this little piece of history was recently found at an unlikely place—discarded at a salvage yard in Gurnee, Illinois.
While it’s unclear why this project was quite literally scrapped, it is a great reminder that the
best-selling EVwe know and love today didn’t just appear overnight. The modern electric car is a byproduct of decades of hard work, secret projects, and failed experiments.
Read on with the car ownership experts at
Jerryto learn more about this particular experiment, and why it's still so relevant to the automotive industry 30 years later.
Where did the Chevy EV Corvette come from?
The Drive, the Chevy Corvette EV was discovered fully intact with a battery-electric drivetrain, but even more unusual than that were its beginnings. The discovered C4 Corvette had official Motorola markings all over it and contained stacks of internal Motorola paperwork on the project.
The car was discovered by Larry Brosten of Auto Parts City and is perfectly intact but not operational.
The previous owner had left it out during the winter, causing the batteries to degrade. Brosten wasn’t clear on exactly who the previous owner was, or how long he himself had owned the vehicle.
Brosten said he got the car from a former Motorola engineer who worked at the company during the project. The car was passed around the Northbrook, Illinois headquarters until it came into Brosten’s possession.
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A Tesla Roadster before the Roadster
At a time when most electric cars were homemade hobby projects pieced together in the shell of cheap sedans, the Motorola Corvette was a real-deal sportscar.
From the outside, it looks like a standard Corvette, but it’s under the hood where things get interesting. Inside are a few silver boxes labeled with “High Voltage” stickers, and it EV itself seems to be powered by an unknown amount of deep-cycle batteries.
Four to six of them are underneath the hood, but there are more in the trunk and the floorboards.
None of the accompanying documentation specifies how many batteries were used or where they were placed, or even how much power the electric Corvette’s motor produced.
Another mystery is how the car was charged. In the housing where a charging port would have been, the port has been removed and the lines capped.
While it’s unclear why the project was shelved, it appears to have been done hastily. Much of the documentation is even hand drawn in pencil, and even the charging plans predate earlier forms of EV charging setups found in cars like the early Toyota RAV4 EV or Ford Ranger EV.
A secret project destined to live on forever
The further you dig into the documentation, the more apparent it becomes that this project was top-secret. Visitors to the Motorola offices were not permitted to enter the garage when any kind of service was being performed on the vehicle.
The secretive nature of the project makes it even harder to track down information about it today, as Motorola Automotive no longer exists. As time goes on, hopefully, more will be revealed about the mysterious origins of the Motorola Corvette EV.