General Motors Co, the largest auto maker of the United States, is all set to take on the high-performance European cars as it announced the launch of its newly designed mid-engine 2020 Corvette, even as the company faces headwinds of a slowdown in global vehicles demand and an uncertain trading environment.
The new vehicle, being called the C8, is the eighth generation of the 66-year-old “Vette” and was unveiled on Thursday to a gathering of enthusiasts, dealers and media in Orange County outside Los Angeles.
The current global business environment is not very conducive to auto makers and GM is no exception. It, just as most other auto makers, face a number of headwinds globally with financial pressure of investing in electrification and meeting stricter emission standards while also grappling with slowing global sales and potential trade tariffs.
GM would be provided with a sorely needed shot in the arm after a difficult year by the new car, said Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell. “A Corvette is not going to help pad margins the way a Silverado would,” Caldwell said. “But from an image and excitement standpoint … that halo effect the Corvette fills is unique.”
The Chevy Silverado full-size pickup truck is among the most profitable vehicles for GM. According to Edmunds, more than 100,000 C7-model Corvettes have been sold in the United States by GM since 2013. The car ceased production this summer.
The company has replaced the iconic front-engine configuration that resulted in the famed two-seater since it was first brought in the market in 1953 by mid-engine architecture which would enable better handling and weight distribution. This is the configuration of most of the European sports carmakers.
The company hopes that the price of the new Corvette, which is anticipated ot be lower than the starting price of the rear-engine Porsche 911 at $113,000, would be alluring for the younger generation of customers and lure them away from the high performance cars as have been offered by the likes of Tesla Inc and others in recent years.
It is however debatable whether the Corvette would be able to be attractive enough for the loyal customers of the costlier European brands ranging from Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, McClaren and Lotus.
GM had been talking about the launch of this new vehicle for months now. A camouflaged C8 Corvette was driven through New York’s Times Square during rush hour in a high-profile tease in April this year by Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter and Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra.
A host of television programs and films – ranging from “Route 66” and “Hot Rods to Hell” in the 1960s to “Corvette Summer” in 1978, had showcased the car which had turned it into an almost mythic in the American imagination.
(Adapted form Reuters.com)