Bob Lutz believes a Corvette SUV is essential for the brand.
The obvious is widely known and General Motors can no longer keep it a secret: the C8 Corvette is mid-engined. While GM is still doing its best to keep details a secret until the July 18 reveal, we already know a fair amount. The Corvette’s most dramatic change in its nearly seven-decade history is long overdue. Corvette engineers realized years ago they could no longer extract world-class performance and handling from a front-engined platform. Despite moving the V8 as far back towards the driver as the engineering would allow, if the Corvette were to become truly world-class, the answer was clear. Zora Arkus-Duntov understood this since the 1960s and yet it’s taken this long for the change to happen. Is it too little too late? Perhaps.
Legendary auto executive who refuses to permanently retire, Bob Lutz, recently spoke candidly with Automotive News about a range of subjects, among them the C8.
While the 87-year-old Lutz, who had high-level stints at BMW, Chrysler, and GM, welcomes the engine re-location, he still has some long-term concerns. "It will be successful to a degree, but all two-passenger sports cars are facing a limited future,” former GM Vice President of Product said. "The new Corvette will do well initially, but it will be rolling over the old customer base. I don't think anyone is going to get out of a Porsche 911 to buy a mid-engine Corvette. One of the problems the Corvette brand has is the same as what Harley-Davidson is facing: The owner body is getting older and older and older, and there are no young people coming in.”
Sadly, he’s absolutely right. The Corvette, for years, has not attracted younger buyers, generally speaking. Whether the C8 can do the job remains uncertain.
But there was something else he said that’s equally troubling: "This car has been in development so long that there is a risk that the design will no longer be as new and as fresh as it should be when the car appears next month.”
Prior to GM’s bankruptcy in 2008, initial plans had been made for the C7 to go midship, but they were changed due to the high cost involved. GM simply didn’t have the money at the time to justify a fairly low-volume vehicle like that. Does Lutz have any advice for GM regarding the Corvette’s future? Of course, but it’s controversial.
"The Corvette brand has unlimited daylight on the upside. If I were there, what I would do is develop a dedicated architecture, super lightweight, super powerful, Porsche Cayenne-like, only much better and a little bigger, medium-volume Corvette SUV. Target worldwide 20,000 to 30,000 units, and price it starting at $100,000. Gorgeous interior. No V-6 powertrain. No low-end version. It has to be the stellar premium sport-utility made in the United States, and the Corvette brand could pull that off.”
That’s right, a Corvette SUV with standard V8 power. If Bob Lutz is recommending this, then perhaps GM ought to listen.