Notebookcheck Logo

Motorola built a 430HP electric roadster before Tesla by retrofitting a Corvette to battery power

Motorola's electric Corvette was rated at 428HP theoretical output (image: Chevrolet)
Motorola's electric Corvette was rated at 428HP theoretical output (image: Chevrolet)
Motorola's automotive division had fully functioning electric cars built in the 1990s as a proof of concept. One of those - a battery-powered Corvette C4 - was recently found languishing in a garage near Motorola's former Illinois headquarters.

The subject of the movie "Who killed the electric car?" - the General Motors EV1 - wasn't the only battery-powered vehicle produced in the 1990s. Toyota and Ford also came out with the RAV4 and Ranger EVs, electric versions of their popular compact SUV and truck lines, respectively, but there were other companies experimenting with e-mobility at the time, too. Surprisingly, one of those seems to have been Motorola, whose automotive division made an e-Vette prototype circa 1992. It retrofitted a Chevy Corvette C4 into a fully battery-powered sports car way before the original Tesla Roadster was even a thought in Elon Musk's head.

Recently unearthed languishing in an Illinois garage, the electric Vette was part of a larger project at Motorola Automotive which had other battery-powered prototypes done as a feasibility study. At the time, Motorola was flush with cash from its cell phone business and assorted patents, so it expreminted plenty. The first PowerMac had a Motorola processor inside, for instance, and Moto also had a line of servers with Windows NT released under the brand.

Motorola was very serious about its electric car project and wanted to keep it a secret, so documentation found along with the car showed that it forbade engineers or mechanics to work on the battery or plug the car in when there were visitors on the premises. Since the car was left in the cold during one of the Illinois winters by the previous owner, the batteries are long gone, and it is not clear what the exact RWD electric motor or battery pack specifications are.

There is only one sheet titled "EV Power" which rates the electric Motorola Vette as capable of up to 428 HP output at 320V and 1000A conditions which may have been purely theoretical at the time. The retrofit uses as much of the stock Corvette as possible, even its peculiar transmission with overdrive, to set the vehicle in motion.

There are directions how to drive the electric Motorola car and its engineers tried to make the transition as seamless as possible. The driver would still turn on an ignition switch with the warning that they shouldn't touch the throttle while doing so. They didn't need to push the clutch to start driving or go into reverse, but only to shift gears while the car was moving.

In fact, the only way one could tell the Motorola e-Vette from a regular C4 if they didn't pop the hood or trunk to see the batteries, was by the licence plates that ended in an "EL" sequence - an electric car requirement that the state of Illinois kept until 2020. The NEMA L10 charging connector was also hidden behind the stock gas fuel door.

In any case, the salvage yard owner who now has the electric Vette, is looking to sell it to a museum or to someone who would be willing to put in the work and make it roadworthy as a tribute to Motorola's daring electric car efforts in the 1990s.

Get the unlocked Motorola Edge with 144Hz display on Amazon

@autopartscity #corvette #electriccar #electricvehicle #chevycorvette #tesla #rarecars #corvettemuseum @Chevrolet @Barrett-Jackson @Mecum Auctions #autopartscity ♬ Electric Slide - Electric Slide Dance Party DJ's


Read all 1 comments / answer
static version load dynamic
Loading Comments
Comment on this article
Please share our article, every link counts!
> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2022 09 > Motorola built a 430HP electric roadster before Tesla by retrofitting a Corvette to battery power
Daniel Zlatev, 2022-09-14 (Update: 2022-09-15)