Is The Future of the Corvette In Peril?
“Could” there be a C7 Corvette?
By K. Scott Teeters
Blogosphere C7 Corvette Speculation.
It’s interesting to see how the blogosphere has stoked the C7 conversation. Last week GM got some positive press with the announcement of the EPA mileage estimates for the new Chevy Volt – upwards of 230 mpg! That’s interesting, but as plug-in hybrids make their way into the market, the manufacturers and the EPA will have to come up with a different way of estimating their figures. I work out of my home and sometimes don’t drive my car for days. Sometimes I fill up as little as once every 6 weeks! A plug-in could keep me going for a year without buying gasoline. The fuel would go bad before I’d use all of it! But the killer in the story was the price of the Volt – $40,000! It’s an interesting car, not “bad” looking and nothing “original,” but how many do they really think they’ll sell when the Honda Insight is about half the price and the Prius is two thirds the price of a Volt?
General Motors’ Problems and People.
GM has major problems in the head (this is NOT a new condition) and they seem as if they’re in shock or dehydrated, and not thinking clearly. On paper, GM’s new CEO, Fritz Henderson, looks like a dream come true, with heavy experience in GM’s GMAC, plus he’s been all over the place inside of GM. I’m sure that he’s a smart fellow, but to me, he just looks like another finance guy. Here’s some background on Mr. Henderson…
I’m not a GM insider, have never worked for GM or any other car company, but I have worked in corporate America. I’ve been following corporate America closely for the last 15 years and am completely unimpressed with “financier” management types. So now GM is out of bankruptcy, streamlined, etc. They can do all of these kinds of upper management machinations but it won’t inspire a single customer to come to a showroom and commit to either a lease or a car loan. The Cash For Clunkers program is a one trick pony designed to help car makers move dead inventory. It makes as much sense in the long term as putting a $4 cup of Starbucks coffee on a credit card and then not paying it off. That $4,500 rebate will end up costing ALL of us $15,000 and we won’t even remember what we spent the money for.
It’s the Economy, Silly.
Our nation’s unemployment has gotten so out of hand that after the car companies rearrange the deck chairs, they still won’t have enough customers. Americans will not start buying cars until they are back to work making real-world wages (not these “green” jobs, such as making solar panels at 2/3s of the pay a worker once had working at a car assembly facility), for a sustained period of time, such that they feel comfortable committing to a very large financial obligation.
It’s also worth pointing out that this isn’t just a Detroit problem, as the media likes to present. Toyota posted ANOTHER billion-plus dollar loss in the 2nd quarter. The other Asian car makers aren’t doing much better. They ALL have the same problem – not enough customers. So, how does this connect to Corvettes? Last June I found a stunning article in The New York Time Business Section. It seems that President Obama has appointed 31-year old Brian Deese to be the car czar (since when does America have “czars”? I thought that was a Russian thing.) to either fix or dismantle GM. This guy knows NOT-A-THING about cars, except how to drive one. Here a link to the story…
If you Google his name you’ll come up with some interesting stories…
Now what is this fellow going to do when he gets into GM and sees the expenditures for the design and development of a car line that only sold around 18,000 units in ‘09? Was he chosen as the classic “efficiency expert” sent in to do the dirty work? (“Let everyone get mad at the kid!”) Could be. Aside from ephemeral issues such as history, flagship status, and racing success, how are the GM insiders going to justify the existence of a $50,000 to $100,000 sport scar with low sales figures? Answer is that they won’t.
Corvette has done well for a Sports Car
in America and for a Long Time.
I have been following Corvettes since 1965 when I was 11 years old. I’ve been a contributing artist and writer for VETTE Magazine since 1976 and for the last 12-1/2 years I have been writing my monthly column for VETTE called, “The Illustrated Corvette Series.” The series is the chronological history of the Corvette. Right from the very beginning in 1953, there have been people inside GM that have been drooling to kill the Corvette. I call the Corvette a “modern American automotive miracle” because it’s lasted so long in a place where it shouldn’t have had a snowball’s chance. The last Fiero was a pretty good little sports car, but didn’t have the sales to justify its existence.
On the up side – Corvette as its own Brand?
“Could” there be a C7 Corvette? There certainly is more that could be done with the car, but realistically, I seriously doubt it. Will the Corvette get axed? I have zero inside info, but my sense is that things aren’t looking good for our favorite American sports car. Ten years ago, who would have thought the Oldsmobile and Pontiac would go away? It looks and feels to me like 1971 all over again. The performance party is over and everything is contracting. Chrysler killed the Viper and Ford stopped making the GT40. Now that GM is essentially “Government Motors” with government bean counters (and we all thought the GM bean counters were tough!), all I can say is hope for the best, but as VP Joe Biden said last October, “Gird your loins!”
On the up side, consider this. Perhaps GM might be inclined to sell off the Corvette as its own brand, “The Corvette Motor Company.” (<– I like the sound of that!) With the right backing and people that know and understand the Corvette, that actually could be a very good thing. If so, let’s hope that Roger Penske didn’t blow all his investment capital on Saturn, or worse yet, the Chinese buy the Corvette brand. They DO have a lot of cash.
Links to Related Stories:
Save the wave ,
K. Scott Teeters aka “The Dude”
You might also enjoy these Corvette Report posts about the C7.