Good for the Chevy Volt, ah, not so good for GM’s halo Corvette
When the Chevy Volt concept car came out at the North American International Auto Show in 2007 it was a genuine attention grabber. Even a died-in-wool Corvette fan like me said, “Hey, pretty cool!” Between the big diameter wheels, the chopped and channeled look, and the promise of 50-plus mpg, it looked like Detroit was serious about taking the lead away from the Toyota Prius.
But when the production Volt came out, enthusiasts said, “Ahh… Excuse us, but what happened?” Of course, fans of the Prius “larva school of styling” cheered, but were not electrified buy the Volt. And why would they? At over $40,000, the car cost $12,00 to $10,000 more than the Prius. It looks like a Malibu variant. The Malibu is a nice car, but it’s just a “nice” car. Even the Motor Trend Car of the year didn’t help the Volt. But by October 2011, the Volt was getting many buyers charged up with sales, as only 3,895 Volts had been shipped. GM had projected 10,000 Volts for ‘11.
So the big “WHOO-WHOO” news for Volt lovers (and GM) is that by the end of May ‘12, Chevy had sold 7,057 cars. I’m certain that the major reason for the bump in Volt sales was the price reduction to just under $32,000. But for some reason, the media has chosen to compare the Volt’s sales with the Corvette’s sales – and it doesn’t look good for the Corvette. What’a dopy comparison! First of all, greeny Volt fans most likely wouldn’t be caught dead in a Corvette, and visa-versa. While Corvette sales are up somewhat from ‘11, they’re still WAY off the ‘07’s total of 40,561 Corvettes. Sorry guys, but it’s apples and oranges here.
I know that there’s still a lot of angst about the GM federal bailout, but it really seems like, “let’s kick the Corvette around some more.” A few months ago, I was going to write a post titled, “Why Has the Media Turned On the Corvette?” because it sure seemed that way. The C6 Corvette has turned out to be not only the most refined Corvette ever, it’s also the quickest and fastest Corvette ever. There are only a small handful of cars that can out-perform the Corvette and they come with substantially larger price tags too. Yet somehow, machines that cost way more than the Corvette don’t get any heat for their bloated prices. But all the press blathers on about is the Corvettes appeal to older buyers, the fact that youngsters can’t buy a Corvette because of the $50,000-plus price, and the seats. GAUD! Aren’t we all tired of hearing about the seats?!
It’s a modern automotive mystery to me how a car that delivers more bang for the buck and smiles per mile is getting such crappy treatment. I don’t know. Maybe I’ve just been a bad mood the last few years, but I really don’t get it. On the other hand, the Corvette is definitely in an odd spot. The economy is in the toilet and there’s no honest recovery in sight. I know people don’t like to hear that, but facts are facts.
But at the same time, the Corvette, as a performance car, almost couldn’t be better. (stop it about the seats, press) There are four models to choose from and two of which are available as a coupe or roadster. Prices range from Just over $50,000 to just under $120,000. A base mode Corvette will walk away from anything from the Corvette’s past and still get over 30-mpg on a 55-mph highway. The car has a higher top speed than ever and has been developed into a “velvette” hammer. Almost every year since ‘07 there have been really exciting special editions. And best of all, Chevrolet has turned the Corvette business into a boutique business. There are more combinations of option packages and dealer installed accessories than you can imagine. You can literally go to your local Chevy dealer and like taking your boy to the RideMakerz Build Your Ride toy store, trick out your Corvette, just the way you want it. Super!
So, where are the customers? Well, to use Bill Clinton’s best line ever, ”It’s the economy, stupid.” (I can do a great Slick Willy impression, you know. it all depends on the definition of the word, “it’s.”) Another factor is the competition. Porsche has recently redesigned the 911 and did an excellent job. The AWD Nissan NSX is a beast. Plus there are several potent Camaros and Mustangs with more daily usability and at lower prices. Then there’s the rabid speculation and anticipation for the C7 that’s been bubbling for the last four years. If the C7 is going to be chock full of new gee-wiz hardware, why buy a C6? Wait and see what the C7 offers. The pending C7 isn’t helping the C6 either.
So, what a odd place the Corvette finds itself in 2012. It is without a doubt, the best Vette yet – HANDS DOWN. And at the same time, sales haven’t been this low since 1997 and the period from ‘53 to ‘61. What a long, strange trip it’s been. – Scott
Related: C5 Corvette vs Toyota Prius in a Fuel Mileage Shootout! This is NOT your grandfather’s 12-MPG Vette, HERE.
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