A Corvette SUV Would Happen Under Bob Lutz’s Watch42
For years, we’ve heard arguments about Corvette breaking away from Chevrolet to become its own brand. A hypothetical Corvette division would sell variants of the forthcoming mid-engine Corvette, a front-engine model, and maybe even a smaller entry-level sports car.
What about an SUV? That should absolutely happen, according to Bob Lutz. If he were still in place, it totally would happen, too.
Lutz spoke candidly about the mid-engine Corvette and the Corvette brand as a whole in a new interview with Automotive News (subscription required) published on Sunday. He said while the mid-engine C8 Corvette will likely do well at first, it won’t do anything to bring in younger and new customers. In fact, he thinks it will be relegated to the same customer base.
“I don’t think anyone is going to get out of a Porsche 911” and buy a mid-engine Corvette, he said.
Instead, he thinks GM should invest in a premium architecture to rival the Porsche Cayenne and build a Corvette super SUV. SUVs are, obviously, where the money is and GM knows a thing or two about building great utility vehicles. Lutz’s hypothetical Corvette SUV would be a little bigger than a Porsche Cayenne and sell in medium volumes; the starting price? A cool $100,000.
No “low-end” version either. Lutz said the Corvette brand would need to be no compromises—offer an American-made “stellar premium sport-utility.” To Lutz, a Corvette brand with this kind of vehicle is a no-brainer.
It’s a solution to a problem the Corvette has faced for years now: its customer base is aging and younger buyers simply aren’t replacing them. A luxurious, performance Corvette SUV, however, could be just the trick. It worked for Porsche, after all.
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Source: Automotive News
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I generally agree with Bob but this is one we part company.
The Corvette is a model not a brand. The equity is build on a top performing sports car for half the exotics or more. What does this have to do with a SUV.
On the other hand Porsche is a sport car company that has nothing else to rely on like Chevy does for income. They have to have these models to survive.
Now there is a way to leverage the Corvette name but not use it in a way to damage it. You take a Tahoe and you give it to the Corvette guys to tune and modify in their own way. You retain the Tahoe name but you name it Tahoe GS Tuned By Team Corvette.
Let them play with the engine and suspension. Change the seats and see what they get. 2/3 of the Corvette owners would buy one for daily use since they don’t daily drive the car. Also on Vette owners would buy in.
You also could take a Silverado and make a sport version tuned by the Corvette team too.
In fact even the a tuned version the the Camaro could be done.
The Vette engineers could be the second coming of the GM performance division and be the Chevy HSV group.
It would have been nice if they took ZR1 engine and put it in the Blazer. Or even better put 3.6L TT V6 in it. It would outsell all of the Corvettes and Camaros combined. Just look what is best selling model for Porsche.
Your hypothesis sounds a bit like the CTS-V series. A great product was the outcome. I’m not sure that would work for a Tahoe, e.t.c.?
I’m in the middle, here.
I can see where, Bob, is making a business case based on existing high-end exotics watering down their brand with SUV’s in order to get a piece of this month’s favorite pie flavor. Business wise, those who have took the risk (Porsche) have succeeded- and- those vehicles help fund the progression of their origin, (sports cars).
I think I agree that, Corvette does not have the same brand (insert-snobbery) cache as the exotics, and producing a SUV corvette may indeed be a blunder. A better idea, might be to expand their lineup with a smaller/lighter/cheaper sports car, keep the C7, and take the C8 to the limit.
But, who knows these days. It could be just what the doctor ordered? But, I’m not sure if GM has the gonads to take risks, anymore.
I ALWAYS agree with maximum Bob. I think he’s spot on with this one. Look at the success of the totally lackluster Cadillac SUVs. Imagine how successful a performance Corvette SUV would be.
The Corvette brand equity you speak of is worthless if your buyers are dying off. Nobody buys them anywhere but in the US, and in the US they are an increasingly rare sight because they are expensive and impractical. And the people who can afford expensive and impractical cars are rich enough to get Porsche coupes. And Porsches are easier to drive fast and can be driven year-round.
And we could get over the name issue by using the secondary model designation to name the car: The coupe becomes the “Stingray” or the “Z06” or the “ZR1” or the “Zora” etc. The SUV would be more menacing. After all, a corvette is a small warship (wikipedia…).
Cant believe you’re doubting Bob… For shame!
Corvette has been Chevrolet from day 1. I disagree with Bob though I think he’s a great man. In all honesty, if they took the Corvette away from Chevrolet after 7 decades, they really should just shut Chevrolet down for good. GM can still be GM. They’d still have GMC trucks, suv’s, crossovers. Same with Buick and they’d have Cadillac for everything. I’m finding it hard to come up with a compelling case to even keep Chevrolet alive anymore. Sadly, GM’s done so much damage to it I don’t see it surviving. It’s going the Oldsmobile/Pontiac route and this would literally be the nail in the coffin.
Chevrolet’s history, nameplates and heritage will have been completely stripped of any dignity and authenticity it had left. I’m getting really sick of this ‘brands’ thing that’s been so heavily pushed since the 90’s… Why can’t anything be real anymore? The Corvette was a model of a Chevrolet sports car. Not a fake marketing brand. They even cheapen the Corvette image by this.
There was an internal split several years ago during the bankruptcy between those in GM that wanted to just turn it into Chevrolet Motor Company with Cadillac and those that wanted it to be GM with Chevy as a low rung brand. It’s pretty obvious who won.
Sorry Scott3 but this IS a no brainer… and a serious money maker. But GM is run by idiots and morons so it’ll never happen…
Sorry Xjug but Bob also came up with the Envoy XUT and and the idea to make Hummer a brand vs models under GMC that cost them billions when it had to be shut down.
You may make short term money by using the Corvette name but you risk damaging the equity of the name and damaging like Cadillac’s name is now damaged.
Just look back to Olds. The Cutlass name was a great model and money maker for the Olds line. You had one model and a couple trim levels.
Then GM got greedy and though well if we named more models Cutlass like the Cutlass Ciera, Cutlass Calais etc. Olds destroyed the Cutlass name.
Product is what sells not the name and even if the name contributes you must protect the name.
You put this name on some half a$$ SUV and you risk killing decades of name equity that has been built for just some short term profits.
I really do not see GM spending the money on a low volume Corvette SUV that would be worthy of the name. It is not like Porsche where they can spend a ton because they can sell them for $150,000
Scott, when you look at the other players in this segment; Lambo, Audi, Porsche, Mercedes etc., except for maybe Ferrari and McClaren, they all have SUVs. People with big money have big purses, and like to keep their exclusiveness(elitist-ness) in their entire vehicle stable.
I rarely disagree with you but I do this time.
Yes but all the names you put out all have tons of equity in their brand names..
Lambo. Porsche etc are brands. They do not have a SUV named Aventador, Porsche does not have a SUV named 911.
Corvette is a model not a brand. It also is not of the level of name the other brands are.
At best you will get a warmed over Tahoe at best. You will not get a new ground up SUV. Even Porsche and Lambo use the VW platform and charge 3 times more for it.
GM is not going to get the same kind of money by using the Corvette name. It is still a Chevy even more so if you use a Chevy truck.
Corvette is a Sports Car and always has been a sports car and always will be a sports car.
Now you can take the Corvette brand and use it to state the Tahoe is tuned by Corvette engineering. It is not much different than the Callaway trucks and SUV.
There is an example of how this would work. Callaway sells bigger engines and better brakes in GM SUV models for $110K in very small numbers. Great products but not even the Callaway name can move the needle as much as an Exotic name that the Corvette is not.
I love the Corvette but it is not a exotic or even in the same class as Porsche or Lambo.
Sorry but i am not willing to gamble the Corvette name with something that while it would generate some money it too great a risk to damage a name that is an Icon.
Just look at the thing Harley Davidson tried to tie their name on with meager success. Even being an Icon can not make non related core products sell.
Ferrari is on the verge of introducing an SUV. We may see it in the coming year.
So, if Ferrari is doing it….
There again Ferrari is a builder of exotic sports cars. They have other models and lines. No pickups paying the bills there.
Is Chevy a exotic sports car company? No. They are a value brand with a very good sports car.
Is Corvette a brand? No it is a model produced by non exotic Chevy.
They could produce a Corvette SUV and keep it under Chevrolet. If they go 3-4 vehicles under the Corvette name, then they have to make it a separate brand.
If a Corvette SUV ensures that the Corvette sports car survives (like it did for Porsche) then I’m 100% behind it.
You are missing the point. The SUV supports the sports cars in the case of Porsche because they have nothing else.
In the case of Corvette the Corvette is already supported by a full line company called Chevrolet that already has a major line of SUV, CUV and pickup truck models that more than support the company but also GM.
The missing of Corvette is not to support GM. It’s mission is to promote Chevrolet and make a profit. They are doing both with the car right now.
A little history on Porsche. They went though an era where they wanted to increase volumes at Porsche because they needed the money. They went to the 924 and 944 in higher volumes to make more money on limited 911 model sales.
The problem came in that the 924-944 were sold in numbers that hurt the image of Porsche. even the lower priced 911 models were hurting the exotic image. The cars were just too common.
So they tried again later with the Boxster at a higher price. It helped but VW went to the SUV based models to turn volume that they needed to fill out the product volume.
At Chevy there is no such need to do so. They already have more volume than needed to support a Corvette program.
At best you are not going to get a specific model SUV to be a Corvette branded model. It will be something based on a existing platform. Most like a Tahoe would fill the roll and all they would do is put the big motor in it and some bigger tires and brakes. Does that make it a Corvette? No!
Now if they want to build a Tahoe like that it would be fine with me but don’t call it a Corvette as there is nothing Corvette about it.
If you want to do a higher end exotic SUV take the Escallade and move it up higher with a special model. People are willing to pay more for it than about any other GM product now and if you gave them more engine and suspension I could see the model doing even better. Toss in a TT BlackWing engine etc.
But we all need to understand here the circumstances of why Porsche needs a SUV and Why the Corvette does not need to be a SUV are very different.
GM now has a formula that has worked for nearly 70 years and sales of the C8 will be as big or bigger than any C models in decades.
My thoughts would be different on this topic if Cadillac had a sports car, -and a true V series SUV, but it doesn’t. Sad.
I kept saying that for a while and got blasted for it. A Vette SUV and sedan makes more sense and money then a Barbie 2-seat Vette. Hopefully GM took notice and working on it now.
Not a Sedan, no. Not at all.
that being said I agree totally with Bob on this, keep the front engine vette as a standard version, have the mid-engine as the halo car, have a small entry level vette similar in size to the soltice/sky, and an Urus fighting SUV.
Sorry Bob but this is where I totally disagree. Enough with the everything has to be an SUV. The world is already grossly over saturated with these things as it is. GM is already doing enough damage to it’s various brands as is. They don’t need this as well. The Corvette is one of there few bright spots. Leave it alone!
It will be left alone, in history if it doesn’t be evolve like Porsche. Not saying get rid of the 2-seat Vette but GM have to have a plan to keep the Vette platform profitable.
The difference is Porsche is a sports car company the Corvette is a sports car model for a company that already sells a great number of SUV models. Big difference on how you leverage a name based on that.
How about a Blazer GS by Team Corvette with TTV6 and a reworked suspension and full time AWD.
So GM should just leave money on the table because they sell a bunch of trucks and SUVs?.
The Vette can get away with an sedan and SUV on it’s platform because of it’s pedigree. A Blazer TT would make a good Edge ST competition but you’re fooling those inside the rust-belt if you think it’s a “Vette SUV”.
The problem is this. The Porsche sells because of the name. It also sells at a very high price but really is a VW with better bits. Porsche needs it to survive as a brand.
Chevy on the other hand does not need it as they already are selling Tahoe’s and Yukon’s for $70K-80K. Adding a Corvette name to one of these would not really add much to the asking price.
Also the you are not going to get a all new specific platform for a Corvette SUV. It would have to be based on what we have.
Now Add the Tahoe GS tuned by Team Corvette and add another 10K to 15K to the price and you will make as much as if you did the Corvette thing. But in the end you do not damage the equity of the model the branding is on the engineers on the Corvette team.
To be honest looking back GM messed up when they killed the GM performance division. While integrating some of these people into the normal platforms have brought us some very good handling models it still would be nice to have specific tuned models for all the divisions.
Just look back at all the models that carried the GM PD badge and just see how good each was. They were the folks who turned a Cobalt into a car that could out run many much more expensive cars. It was just 2 seconds off the Camaro SS at the Ring only running a turbo 4.
Note Mark Stielow did the Cobalt SS suspension. He also did the Z/28.
You will be fooling anyone anywhere if you try to call any SUV a Corvette. Again Corvette is a model Porsche is a brand.
Would you call a Cayenne a 911?……. Not likely!
There are ways to make money but you need to understand fully branding and equity in the names you have and how not to abuse them.
Brand and model names must be treated differently.
You can have a short term profit gain for 5 years but damage the name of the car to where you destroy the near 70 years of equity
you have built and future sales and profits of a good sports car.
“The Porsche sells because of the name. It also sells at a very high price but really is a VW with better bits. Porsche needs it to survive as a brand.”
And the Vette have no brand equity?.
“Chevy on the other hand does not need it as they already are selling Tahoe’s and Yukon’s for $70K-80K. Adding a Corvette name to one of these would not really add much to the asking price.
Also the you are not going to get a all new specific platform for a Corvette SUV. It would have to be based on what we have.”
So limiting Chevy on it’s own vehicles because?….
Notice I keep saying Vette platform because a theoretical SUV would be based on a Vette, not Alpha, Omega, VSS-F, truck or anything else. The ME Vette would push $100k + for a track toy, an sport SUV not only is more practical but will pay for any Vette in the future.
It seems like Lutz and the other sports car makers got the memo but the domestics keep having an autistic “truck, truck, derp” moments instead of increasing on what they have with a talented engineering pool.
Say the C7 platform packages for potential small rear seats. Even if they engineer a lift with big tires, it would come across as a ‘shooting brake’. If that’s what people are advocating, they ought to make themselves clear. Unless they mean a lifted C8 with a package shelf?
Lutz idea was a large V8 only SUV. Which suggests a lifted Omega/VSS-R. To me a Chevrolet with a legitimate SS trim covers this and gains volume from lower trims. Either way, it won’t address Lutz’s concern for Corvette demographics.
My (not in the industry) viewing angle of this: the Macan, Cayenne, even Panamara seem like frauds to me. It’s VW fighting M and AMG with Porsche; Muscle cars for elitists. The Corvette is not warmly accepted here; it’ll be a me-too. In the opposite way that, a revived Hummer could be shunned as tough-guy yuppy-mobiles by Jeep fans. Which the expanded Jeep also oversteps.
TLDR: Scott3 is more on the ball here.
GM tried to capitalize on the Corvette name with the Corvair. Imagine if they had used the full Corvette name on it with a model designation. What are the odds the name would be seen as well as it is today due to the poor publicity of the Corvair.
It is ok to use round tail lamps and styling to remind people of the family heritage but using the name takes you down a road that if it fails you can not come back from.
How about a Escalade Coupe?
Wouldn’t sell, but sure be neat to see one on the road, eh?
As usual, Lutz is dead on in his analysis of the situtation. SUVs are now the mainstream vehicles and it’s a gaping hole in GM’s lineup to not have a high performance SUV.
The mid-engine Corvette should have been done a decade ago. 2020 should be the year of the Corvette SUV.
A great benefit of a Corvette division would be that it could bring the Camaro (front engine), Corvette (mid engine), and SUV all under a single team dedicated to world class performance. Economies of scale would kick in once the SUV was in production since it could share many parts with the other Corvettes.
The alternative would be to make Cadillac the brand for high performance SUVs, but it’s clear GM would rather launder Chevy FWD platforms through the Cadillac styling department.
Make it a body on frame corvete.
A Corvette “SUV?”
Creating a Corvette SUV is as easy as dropping the 750 hp LT5 supercharged 6.2L V8 into a Chevrolet Tahoe or Blazer.
Completely wrong. You need to develop a proper chassis that can actually handle and have sports car characteristics. Think Lambo Urus or Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio.
Oh, good grief. You’d end up with something that “handles” like the Queen Mary.
I always thought Pontiac should of been kept and produce nothing but pefromance variants on existing GM platforms to give alternative options to The Dodge line up.
That original Lutz plan started with Pontiac G6 on the low-end and ATS on the luxury side, maybe that can still work today.
You already have a Camaro with dropping sales a Firebird would do no better.
The only reason Chrysler makes money on 5heir cars is th3 majority sold are the lower end cars carry volume and the tooling was paid off over a decade ago.
Their good marketing of the limited edition models keeps them on the radar.
I am a Pontiac owner but even I know Pontiac died long ago. They were just fancy better Chevys for the last 20 years.
Between his lust for Lincoln’s malaise vehicles and this comment, Lutz must be losing his mind.
No Vorg. Bob Lutz has a ton of experience and has a flair for what works. I admire him greatly and think he’s right on the money for those views.
I love Bob to death and agree with about 98% of his comments. But this is one that he is as wrong on as he was the GMC Envoy XUV. While the GMC appeared to be a good idea on paper it failed miserably.
Bob also missed on Hummer in his opinion. He said it now should have been a model or models at GMC vs the brand he made it. GM lost billions closing down Hummer as they had to deal with a dealer network vs just killing a model. That is the same risk for making Corvette a brand vs a model.
I always agree with Bob and usually quote him numerous times, but this one I think the SUV should go under the Caddy Badge, which the four-seaters and other models with some significant horsepower have gone before. Maybe his idea does bring in a younger buyer though, but I am 60 and really this is the first time in life I have the money to spend on these cars. I went with a used 911 though, pretty much like he said, my mindset for a Corvette is some guy with gold chains around his neck and wrist even though I know the cars are really top performers now, unlike the ’70s and ’80s.
Gold chains, track suit, and old McDonald’s wrappers in the back of his Corvette, lol.
I’m with Bob!
GM doesn’t seem keen about taking risks these days on such projects. IMO, Lutz is looking forward and he has a valid viewpoint. Going to a Chevrolet dealership to order a C8 is not a special experience. The C8 isn’t sharing showroom floor space with any highly regarded nameplates so cachet is diluted. But I could definitely see a Vette sub-brand with C8, a smaller sports car, and an Omega platform based high performance SUV coupe.
Brilliant idea, so GM will never do it.