There have long been rumors that General Motors might spin Corvette off from Chevrolet, launching it as a standalone brand as early as 2025 — and the time may have finally arrived, although such a move could deliver a variety of additional surprises.
If a report by Car & Driver proves accurate, a new Corvette brand would move toward an all-electric future, and see the addition of more products, starting with an SUV and a four-door “coupe.”
The report comes just days after GM President Mark Reuss signaled that there are big things afoot for Corvette. As TheDetroitBureau.com reported on Tuesday, Reuss laid out the company’s plans for Chevy’s halo vehicle during GM’s Investor Day briefing, signaling there was a new model coming that will deliver “the next step in performance for Chevrolet,” adding “You won’t be able to imagine it from a performance standpoint.”
What GM has confirmed
The Detroit automaker had already said that it was working on some sort of Corvette hybrid, possibly the long-rumored “Zora” model said to be named for the sports car’s legendary Chief Engineer Zora Duntov. It would be a replacement for — or a step above — the old Corvette ZR1. It is all but certain that such a top-line model will be gas-electric and deliver something topping 800 horsepower.
But GM has also signaled that a pure battery-powered version of the Corvette is also in the works using its Ultium vehicle architecture. And, based on what we’ve been seeing from other new, high-performance EVs, such as the Tesla Model S Plaid and the upcoming Lucid Air Sapphire, it would take a push to 1,000 hp or more to truly stand out.
All this lends credence to the C&D report, though Chevrolet public relations representatives have yet to respond to questions from TheDetroitBureau.com.
Not a new idea
There have long been calls for Chevy to add new versions of the Corvette, something the brand has long resisted. But things have changed during the past several decades as brand extension is becoming the norm, rather than the exception, for even the most exclusive brands such as Ferrari and Lamborghini. And while the idea of a high-performance SUV might have once seemed absurd, Porsche long ago blasted through that wall with its Cayenne and Macan models.
Now, we’ve got utility vehicles from all sorts of performance brands, including Lamborghini, Aston Martin and, most recently, Ferrari, which has seen so much demand for the new Purosangue it has had to cut off the order bank.
Of course, there are still those who hold sacred specific models. Could Porsche build a 911 SUV? It certainly has avoided that move. But Ford took the risk with the launch of its Mustang Mach-E. And while some purists have screamed at the idea, especially when the automaker revealed that it would be all-electric, Ford this week confirmed that it has built the 150,000th electric Mustang SUV. And it’s still struggling to meet demand.
If GM really is going to launch a new Corvette brand and add new models, it could face some challenges beyond the likely backlash from traditionalists. It will have to tread carefully to avoid creating serious legal challenges by existing Chevrolet dealers.
And it will clearly have to make sure that any new products, especially ones as different as SUVs and four doors, would live up to the Corvette’s storied image. That will take some creative design and engineering work.
What we know is that GM has already confirmed it is, in CEO Mary Barra’s words, “on a path to an all-electric future.” And it is developing an assortment of new, skateboard-like platforms, along with its own Ultium batteries and a unique electric vehicle architecture. It’s also confirmed that battery drive architecture is migrating from 400- to an 800-volts, which will help in numerous ways, including delivering better performance while also speeding up charging times.
Reuss previously told TheDetroitBureau.com that automaker eventually hopes to be able to give its EVs up to a 90% battery top-off in about 10 minutes.
We’ll keep pressing GM to comment on the Corvette story.