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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