Will midengine Corvette be a conquest machine?
TUSTIN, Calif. — General Motors President Mark Reuss sees the new midengine Chevrolet Corvette recasting the sports car market: The starting price below $60,000 keeps it attainable to loyalists, while its newfound capabilities — such as reaching 60 mph in three seconds or less — may attract buyers who spend lavishly on high-end imports.
“I think this car is going to change everything. I really do,” Reuss said after the 2020 Corvette’s global rollout in an old blimp hangar here.
Reuss believes one of the new Corvette’s direct competitors will be the Porsche 911. The least expensive 911, the Carrera, starts at $92,350, including shipping, and has a six-cylinder engine with 125 hp less than the Corvette’s 495-hp V-8. The Carrera’s 0-to-60 mph time is around 4.2 seconds, still very fast, but considerably slower than the new Corvette’s.
Other sports cars with the engine behind the driver that could lose customers to the latest Corvette are also more expensive, such as the Acura NSX, which starts at $159,495, including shipping, and the Audi R8, which has a $171,150 starting price, including shipping.
Reuss said the new Corvette has a chance to win those customers.
“I think they will be interested to come and see what it is,” he said. “It’s a very different car than what it was.”
The outgoing Corvette was fast and handled well. But it lacked the sophistication of having the engine behind the driver and the visceral sensations that come with that layout — such as engine sounds and direct-feeling steering — for which sports car buyers pay premium prices.
But keeping the car fairly affordable was always the goal, and high-volume production of components is key to keeping the price down, Reuss told reporters. For instance, GM is rolling out an electrical architecture in many of its vehicles that reduces wiring and speeds communication among the various computers. The new Corvette uses that system.
Affordability is “hugely important to the everyday buyer who we’ve come to know,” said Paul Stanford a Chevrolet dealer in Dearborn, Mich. “The Corvette has always been a value proposition in the market. I am honestly thinking we are going to see improved sales.”
Reuss said there will be other iterations of the Corvette in the coming years, but he offered no specifics such as electric motor assist or all-wheel drive.
“The price point has the effect of not scaring away buyers who assume it is out of their league, more than lure buyers in who were thinking of spending more elsewhere,” said Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst with IHS Markit.
“The price point is also reflective of the relatively higher volume that Corvette captures, compared with pricier sports cars,” Brinley said.
“To convert buyers from more expensive sports cars, Chevrolet will have to rely on traditional product attributes, including the increased performance and improved handling,” she said. “As it has often done in the past, it has to outdrive the competition.”