Corvette sub-brand and SUV on the horizon?
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.
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.
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.)
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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Ruin something else GM. Same as Olds and Pontiac. Chevrolet is not the same either. But, you can’t go back home. Bring on the future. What will we do with all these batteries? Where will we get the power to charge them? Can’t use all that HP on the road. Where will we drive it? Where are all the raw materials going to come from? Why not make an affordable version with a high torque V8 we all can enjoy that looks like the more expensive one. 5 spd 500hp, 500-Lbft, dependable 1- cam LS. Around $50,000. Just a few questions to ponder
Agreed. Destroying viable brands like Olds and Pontiac were stupid decisions. They’ve made the new Corvettes unaffordable to the old customers who could buy and enjoy them, instead of watching the super rich drive them down the street.
IIR the Corvette WAS a brand of it’s own/GM Halo until the C3 (or later, during the C3 lifetime). Yes you bought it in a Chebbie store but it was not a “Chevrolet”.
While I like some Corvettes I still do not like the C8 visually, inside or out. It appears to have been designed by 5 different committees and thrown together with no design cohesion. It’s a friggin’ performance bargain I’ll grant you that but it’s still Fugly.
Your memory is incorrect. Corvette has always been the “Chevrolet Corvette”
Someone asked where Zora is when we need him. I’ve seen him. He’s in Bowling Green in an urn……
Wish he was still with us
The angst is almost comical. GM has already decided on the Corvette’s future as there are years of development and pre-production planning underway. The only voices GM will hear are those of the marketplace. They should be pretty good at recognizing a dud by this time.
A corvette SUV? An electric Corvette? General Motors has elevated stupid to an art form. Corvette crossover? Morons. How about a Corvette pick-up truck? A Corvette farm tractor? How about a Corvette station wagon? Will these idiots ever run out of dumb ideas? I’ll stick with my C-1, thank you.
I DON’T THINK ZORA WOULD APPROVE AN E-VETTE, JUST LIKE HE DIDN’T APPROVE THE SPLIT WINDOW. I DON’T REMEMBER ANY POLES ASKING WHAT KIND OF CORVETTES WE VETTE FANS WANT, SO WHY TURN A HOT CAR INTO A “JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER CAR”. I DON’T KNOW HOW MANY YEARS I HAVE LEFT TO DRIVE, BUT I HOPE I NEVER HAVE TO BUY AN ELECTRIC CAR OR TRUCK. SHAME ON THE CAR COMPANIES FOR TAKING THE WRONG FORK IN THE ROAD. THE DRIVING EXPERIENCE IS FEELING THE ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION DO THEIR JOB. ELECTRIC CARS AND TRUCKS HAVE THEIR PLACE AND IT’S NOT A DAILY DRIVER.
If you remember the transition from 1972 model year American cars to 1973……this is deja vu all over again, only 10x worse.
Stopped looking at/loving Vettes after 1967. My ’60 and ’66 Rat were like part of my family.
Stopped looking at/loving Vettes after 1967. My ’60 and ’66 Rat were like part of my family.
Maybe gm could re-introduce the chevette but, instead call it a corvette II? they would be economical and should be inexpensive. that way everyone could have a corvette. no??? ez peezee. problem solved.
I can’t imagine why the trend to cheapen the currency on these names that had such special renown: Porsch, Corvette, Mustang etc. Actually Cadillac and Mercedes Benz used to mean something as well. Now I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a Corvette skate board or a Mercedes Benz motor scooter. What on earth is a Corvette SUV supposed to conjure up? There is no such thing as a low, mid-engined SUV that you might win the Lemans with. When will GM come out with a Cadillac dump truck?
Mercedes told shareholder’s last year they are going “upscale” with the lineup. There was an article/mention here at Hagerty about it –sounded like it just meant cutting the high volume cheaper vehicles off the bottom of the brands current offerings.
Will be interesting if others follow suit. Some of the sporty brands that did this (crossover/SUV) are now part of larger companies and don’t have to pay the bills alone.