BUSINESS | GM’s Mid-Engine Corvetts Roar Onstage To Take On Europeans

Los Angeles, California – General Motors Co unveil on Thursday its newly designed mid-engine 2020 Corvette in a splashy tribute to its emblematic sports car, even as the No.1 U.S. automaker faces mounting pressures in a sluggish and uncertain global sale environment.

In a glitzy presentation in Orange Country outside Los Angeles, the eight generation of the 66-year – old “Vette” in red, white, and blue, roared down runway stopping short before an audience of Corvette enthusiasts, GM executives, dealers and media.

Revved up to take on high-performance European rivals, the new Corvette, dubbed the C8, provides a breath of fresh air to GM, which along with other carmakers faces slowing sales and new financial pressures related to global trade, electrification and unresolved emission standards.

With a 495 horsepower, V8 engine and dual clutch the Corvette will go from zero to 60 mph in under 3 seconds, executives said, adding that the starting price in the United States will be less than $60,000.

The sports car gives the Detroit automaker a sorely needed shot in the arm after a difficult year, Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell said.

“A Corvette is not going to help pad margins the way a Silverado would’, Caldwell said. “But from an image and excitement standpoint…the halo effect the Corvette fills is unique”.

Since 2013, GM has sold over 100.000 C7-model Corvettes in the United States, accordin to Edmunds. The car ceased production this summer.

Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter said GM had reached the limits of what could be done with the front engine, but that the new mind-engine design allowed a “quantum leap forward in driving dynamics”.

Far below the $113,000 starting price for the rear-engine Porsche 911, the Corvette’s opening price under $60.000 could attract a younger buyer lured in recent years to high performance vehicles from Tesla Inc and others.

The Launch

The massive hangar where the gasoline-fueld Corvette took the stage is less than 40 miles (64 km) from Tesla’s Southern California design center, where Chief Executive Elon Musk in 2017 unveiled a prototype of a new electric Roadster-dubbed “the quickest car in the world” by the automaker.

Whether the Corvette can generate enough excitement to attract even the loyal buyers of the pricier European brands – from Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, McClearen and Lotus – remains to be seen.

In April, Juechter and Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra drove a camouflaged C8 Corvette through New York’s Times Square during rush hour in a high-profile tease.

Almost mythic in the American imagination, the car has been immortalized in television and film from “Route 66” and “Hot Rods to Hell” in the 1960s to “Corvette Summer” in 1978.

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