Just last month, GM Authority reported that a judge had dismissed a lawsuit filed against General Motors in which it was alleged the automaker had fit various seventh-generation Corvette models with faulty wheels. Although the case dismissal means the automaker will avoid ponying up replacement Corvette C7 wheels and reimbursement costs, it’s also a major snub to owners.
First, a little background. It’s been well-documented that the lightweight aluminum alloy wheels equipped on C7-generation Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport and Z06 models can bend, warp, or crack. The Corvette C7 wheel issue is a common topic in online car communities and forums, and multiple lawsuits have been filed against General Motors alleging a defect.
Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter has even acknowledged that the Corvette C7 wheels could be damaged by potholes and crack or warp over time. And although General Motors has every right to defend itself from the allegations, it could come at the cost of customer loyalty and trust.
For starters, the C7 Corvette is not a cheap vehicle, especially the Grand Sport and Z06 models. One would assume that these high-end sports cars come with equally high-end components to justify the price, and the sort of damage alleged by numerous owners and lawsuits doesn’t line up with that thinking.
Further more, the wheels themselves are quite expensive. Replacements can cost over $900 per wheel, and given the replacement Corvette C7 wheel could have exactly the same defect, its longevity is anything but assured.
Intentional or not, the message to customers is clear – GM is more concerned with short-sighted loss mitigation than it is with long-term customer loyalty.
This is a major issue. Chevrolet Corvette owners are some of the most loyal GM customers out there, often owning multiple GM vehicles, but for a C7 owner that suddenly must replace bent or cracked wheels on their new sports car, it begs the question – does GM’s handling of the Corvette C7 wheel issue instill confidence in future purchases from General Motors? The answer is likely “no.”
Hopefully, this issue does not continue into the future. The up-and-coming Corvette C8 Z06, for example, will offer carbon fiber wheels that will drastically reduce unsprung weight. But with the ongoing Corvette C7 wheel issue, will C8 buyers spring for the expensive composite option? Will impacted C7 owners consider the C8 at all?
The real question is this – is GM’s defense on this issue worth the hit to customer loyalty? It remains to be seen.