Corvette sub-brand and SUV on the horizon?

John Keeble/Getty Images

Thanks to the astute engineering and fetching design GM invested in the long-awaited, mid-engine, eighth-generation Corvette, it has become the automaker’s hottest property. New Stingrays are sold out. Used C8s command over-sticker prices. For a spot on the 670-horsepower Z06’s waiting list, passionate fans are begging dealers.

Credible rumors and top management projections point to even more excitement on the horizon. Half-a-dozen additions to the C8 family before the clock strikes 2030 will rouse unprecedented interest in America’s only sports car. GM President Mark Reuss recently mentioned two new editions without providing much detail. He differentiated them by referring to one as “electrified” and the other as “full electric” while touting GM’s goal of adding 30 new BEVs to its roster by 2025.


Some of this should sound familiar, especially if you read my deep-dive article from last May on the future Corvettes. “Electrified” is code for the Corvette E-Ray hybrid due in a year or so. A battery pack inside the Stingray’s hollow center spine, coupled with a 100-horsepower AC drive motor propelling each front wheel and a motor-generator within the eight-speed dual-clutch transaxle will provide improved performance and slippery road poise. Critically, it will also add the ability to drive into European urban centers that prohibit tailpipe emissions. While the 495-horsepower LT2 V-8 is the most likely engine to be tapped for the E-Ray, there’s nothing stopping GM from also adding a 670-horsepower LT6 version to the Corvette lineup for those with a thirst for additional speed.

Corvette E-Ray camo front three-quarter track

Corvette EV

While Reuss won’t expound on any details concerning the “full-electric” Corvette(s) heading our way, we and others have been busy speculating and poking around for answers. The first most likely possibility is a five-door hatchback BEV constructed atop the company’s Ultium skateboard platform. The role model here is the Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo. If the GMC Hummer is the platinum brick in GM’s BEV family, this as-yet-unnamed all-electric Corvette will be the company’s .50-caliber bullet. GM designers will have their work cut out combining sleekness and reasonable rear-seat access with a credible exterior appearance.


To balance out all of these dancing electrons, the coming Corvette ZR1 will be powered by a 5.5-liter LT7 V-8 consisting of the Z06’s LT6 engine augmented by two turbochargers. Expect a monstrous 850 horsepower, 825-850 lb-ft of torque, and enough raw speed to make Ferrari engineers weep. While this Corvette’s timing is unknown, we’d expect it to serve as the meat in the coming BEV sandwich. Pencil the ZR1 in on your 2025 calendar.

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 badge

Corvette crossover

To continue Corvette’s growth spurt, there are rumblings (from Car and Driver, among others) that a larger BEV crossover will bow later in the decade under a more formalized sub-brand. Imagine a fully electric Porsche Macan or Cayenne. This brief for this vehicle: ample room and comfort for five adults with sufficient cargo space to support cross-country voyages. GM’s hope, one imagines, is that America will be outfitted with conveniently spaced fast charging stations by the time this Corvette SUV hits our highways.


To close out the eighth-generation Corvette’s lifetime, a remarkable model to be called “Zora” awaits. Picture the union of E-Ray and ZR1 technology, combining forces into a mega C8 good for 1000 horsepower and torque targets GM engineers are striving to meet between coffee breaks. In case you’re behind on your Corvette lore, Zora Arkus-Duntov was the Vette’s patron saint from the mid-1950s through the mid-1970s and the engineer who identified the need for a mid-engine powertrain layout.

For those who can’t afford the $200,000 price tag likely for the Corvette Zora, GM has an appropriate consolation prize in mind: the next-generation Corvette, nicknamed C9. It’s not a stretch to imagine the C9 Vette will be a more affordable BEV two-seater with no internal combustion engine in the mix. (To read our comprehensive design and engineering forecast click here.)

Chevrolet Corvette sports car logo
Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Shedding the bowtie?

The potential flurry of coming Corvettes begs one additional question—is this sporting champion about to snip its Chevy apron strings? Given the fact that today’s C8 already carries crossed flags inside and out, with absolutely no Chevrolet or bowtie identification, one could argue that ditching the “Chevrolet” in “Chevrolet Corvette” would be something of a formality at this juncture.

Three considerations are almost definitely floating around GM headquarters concerning this subject. The first is fear about rocking the Corvette boat with any break from the Chevy fleet. The second is the strategy of mimicking Genesis’ split from Hyundai dealerships, complete with its own distinct (and more high-end) sales and service facilities. The third alternative is Tesla’s successful circumvention of the entire traditional sales and service model.  Instead, the seller-to-customer dialogue would be all digital, via website and cellphones the way Polestar operates. If service is required, the vehicle is hauled off to a facility for work and a loaner if provided to avoid inconvenience.

While GM would show unprecedented courage with such a dramatic expansion of the Corvette product line, we don’t expect the automaker follow Tesla into a fully digital sales and service interface. We’d wager you’ll still purchase the next Corvette in person, perhaps in at a stand-alone showroom in which Le Mans victory décor lines the walls in place of Silverado pickup and Suburban banners.

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    As a young Marketing executive, he’s 30 years younger than me, told me years ago, they are not marketing to you. They are marketing to the much younger generation. And he is right. in my mind a Mustang should always be a 2 dr. But you what, the younger people I talk to who buys the 4 door really like it. Just an old mans humble opinion.

    Neil you are correct. They are not interested in Baby Boomer regarding the Corvette. Young men are not interested in cars as we were. Most dont even want a license at 16. I couldnt wait

    I’ve owned my ’67 now for 55 years and just the thought of an electric is bad enough, has my stomach churning and then a SUV? Oh no, hear it comes, gotta run!!!

    Many of these comments echo the chatter around the C8- “You can’t put the engine in the middle, it has always been in the front”, “This is ignoring the tradition Corvette buyer”, “Leave it alone”,

    A few things to consider: 1) The mid-engine idea seems to be working out. 2) The C7 was GM’s signal to the “traditional” Corvette buyer that they are headed for extinction. 3) If the Corvette was “left alone”, 1955 would have been the final year of production.

    Spinning-off from GM is a fine idea. It is a brand recognized (Maybe not respected) all around the world. The buyer of a $200,000 Corvette will not enjoy visiting his/her local Chevy dealer for purchase or service.

    I’ve had 6 or 7 Corvettes over the years…still got 3. But Chevrolet lost me when they came out with the current generation. To me it’s not an “American Sports Car”, stylistically it’s a copy of European sports cars made with some American parts. And it’s priced beyond the reach of most Americans. I keep reading “Corvette is just as good as those european super cars, but much cheaper”. Nowadays the AMERICAN performance cars come from Dodge and Ford.

    GM finds itself in a quandary. I agree the Vette is separating itself from anything else GM has to offer (especially Chevrolet). It is no longer a toy for the common man. A separate Make with stand alone dealerships will put the Vette at home to where it has evolved but at what price of upsetting the faithful.

    The Zo6 is over 100k and has a 5 year waiting list already. The regular Corvette can be had for 60K. No much over the average price people are paying for the average pick up truck.

    Let the Corvette alone and be a Chevy Corvette. That electric Mustang is not a real Mustang in my opinion. If they want to build a sporty SUV call it something else and leave the Vette alone. Why mess with sucess. A sports electric sedan or coupe might be ok since they are doing away with the Camero.

    Interesting comments and well said. But, didn’t most folks say the same things about BMW, Porsche, Maserati, Lamborghini, Aston Martin…even Mustang, “This will ruin the brand!” It didn’t. For companies like Porsche, it provided market share and capital that enabled Porsche to continue refining its sports cars.
    I’m not sure why there’s so much resistance to expanding the nameplate. The additional models will sell well, the halo car will be the Corvette, and more people will come to the brand with aspirations to eventually get to the top nameplate. It’s not like anyone is going to say, “I’m not buying a ZR1 because they’re making SUVs.”

    As any highly weighted decision is made hopefully all aspects are carefully considered. Corvette is the sports car that could compete with the “big boys” but be purchased and serviced in America USA. USA meaning everywhere a Chevy dealer is, which last I looked was just about everywhere. Not that every one who turns a wrench or plugs in a computer is competent to work on the latest generation, but at least the general could help in a pinch. I worked for a Chevy store in service and know how “it rolls”. The line guys hate Vettes unless they are Vette guys. There were some years of vette that were absolute turds..crossfire injection anyone ? The new versions are great as they uphold a long great tradition. SUV and Electro Vettes may appeal to a few, but long term I think not . My 71 year old friend has a 2017 and it’s plenty fast , sticks like glue to the twisties and holds two golf bags. Meets his needs ….and his wife likes to ride in it ! .

    Never thought I would be expounding the virtues of government intervention but that is exactly what saved our beloved Corvette from extinction. During the melt-down of the mid 2000’s GM was ready to jettison the Corvette in order to placate the government regulators. It was these very regulators that demanded GM keep the Corvette. Their reasoning was quite simple, Corvette was THE most profitable portion of the GM cataloge. Keep Corvette they ordered and the C-7 was back on the drawing boards! Chevy out-did themselves with that car. Not to be outdone, they came back with the C-8! Once again Chevrolet is at a cross-roads. To BEV the Corvette or not is the questiion. Unfortuneately bean counters will rule. They missed the mark once before, they can do it again. Quel dommage!

    The article draws a number of comparisons to Porsche, and if GM does launch a “Corvette” brand, that would seem to be what they see as their competition/model, not Mustang, etc. And reportedly, Porsche has been quite successful with its approach (although similarly, a with lot of griping from the traditional sports car base). That said, I think Neil may be correct, GM’s target market for a Corvette brand might skew younger than the sports car traditionalist.

    Very big difference here Porsche brand is a small brand that has a few customers GM is a large company Chevrolet is a barge division and that makes a big difference the Corvette does not have that expand itself to be popular Corvettes out sale the entire Porsche brand alone it doesn’t need a niche Karen type of SUV or sedan or a lawn mower to be used or to be profitable.

    GM messed up on going to this concept back when the mid engine ‘Vette came out. Make Corvette its own brand like Ram became. Then they should have kept the front engine car and called it Stingray. Entry level Corvette. Then the mid engine, call it M8 after the old Fiero naming style. Then all the other models they can imagine like mentioned in the article. Its not in its own dealerships, but it doesn’t have to be in Chevy exclusively. Let GM award the Corvette franchise to the best performing GM dealer in a given market. If the Camaro ends up going away again as rumored, this could fix that by moving it into the Corvette brand. Naming would have to be figured out, but this could be a huge way for GM to grow in market share and new products. It would be the flagship of GM brands. Much better concept to grow than Saturn was.

    Why not bring the EVs, skateboards or whatever back as the “Chevette” and leave the Corvette badged the way it is. There’s 70 years of tradition in the name and putting Corvette lipstick on a pig is sacrilegious.

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