General Motors took a big risk with the redesign of its familiar Corvette sports car for 2020, migrating from a front to mid-engine layout. The approach is clearly paying off, the two-seat Chevrolet struggling to meet consumer demand.
If anything, the order bank could face an even backlog, GM officials suggested Monday morning after the eighth-generation, or C8 Chevrolet Corvette was named North American Car of the Year during a ceremony at Detroit’s TCF Convention Center Monday morning.
The event also saw Kia win its first trophy from NACTOY jurors as North American Utility Vehicle of the Year, with the Jeep Gladiator named North American Truck of the Year.
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray went up against two tough competitors, the other finalists including the redesigned Hyundai Sonata and the Toyota Supra which returned after a lengthy absence. But the ‘Vette was widely expected to win considering its already long list of awards, including Motor Trend Car of the Year.
Nonetheless, “This is a really powerful validation for what we’ve been doing,” said Tadge Juechter, the head of the Corvette program, as he accepted the NACTOY award
With up to 495 horsepower in its Stingray trim, the new sports car can hit 60 in about 2.8 seconds and top out at just under 200 miles an hour. Known to fans as the C8 – short for eighth-generation Corvette – it is being offered as both a coupe and convertible.
Often known as “America’s sports car,” the 2020 Corvette migrated from a classic front engine layout, moving the engine to the rear, more like such exotic imports from Europe. But, at a starting price of $58,900, it comes in at a fraction of what brands like Ferrari and Lamborghini command.
Even before it became a star of this year’s automotive awards season, the new Corvette had lined up nearly a full year of orders. Complicating matters, production of the new C8 model was halted when parent General Motors was hit by a long strike at the beginning of the 2020 model-year. The automaker is still struggling to get production back on track. Juechter said a second shift is being added at the Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky to help catch up with demand.
The Corvette isn’t the only winner to be facing strong demand. Kia’s U.S. President Michael Cole noted the Korean carmaker is struggling to deliver all the Telluride SUVs Americans have been demanding since its launch last year.
This marks the first-ever NACTOY win for Kia, though its sibling Korean brand, Hyundai, has won several times during the 27 years of North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. Ironically, the two brands faced off this year, the Hyundai Palisade a finalist for the utility vehicle honors. Both vehicles share the same, underlying platform, though they feature unique designs and target different markets.
The third finalist, the Lincoln Aviator, has also been widely hailed and has pumped new life into a domestic luxury brand that has been struggling for years.
The Jeep Gladiator nabbed honors in the final category, Overwhelming truck competitors Ford Ranger and the Ram 1500 Heavy Duty.
The Gladiator, the Jeep brand’s first pickup in a quarter century is “something of a Swiss Army knife, part pickup, part utility vehicle and part convertible,” suggested NACTOY Vice President Chris Paukert as he presented the award.
As with the other two winners, Jeep is struggling to meet demand for the truck.
The winners in the three NACTOY categories were chosen by a jury of 50 automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada.