Jalopnik Hosts a Q&A with Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter


Jalopnik Hosts a Q&A with Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter

Jalopnik opened up their website on Monday to host a question and answer session with Corvette’s Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. I missed the live version which was probably a good thing as the trolls were a plenty, but Tadge seemed to make the best of it and occasionally he trolled the trolls right back.

But in all that back and forth banter, Tadge offered some pretty interesting answers to some decent questions ranging from why the Z06 isn’t naturally aspirated to the recent Zora ZR1 prototype spy pics, Ford’s new GT sports car and the Nurburgring time for the Z06.

By far our two favorite exhanges during the question and answer session revolved around the mythical mid-engined Zora ZR1. When asked if there will be a ZR1, Tadge replied “We don’t talk about future product, I’m sorry. Eventually all will be revealed.” [emphasis added by me] Saying that “eventually all will be revealed” sounds to me like there is something in the future that will be revealed. We’ll take what we can get!

The second exchange regarding the ZR1 and its relation in performance to the new Z06, Tadge responded to “how do you top what’s already been done with the Z06” and he replies, “We left everything on the playing field with the Z06, we didn’t leave performance headroom for a ZR1.” For those that have driven the new Corvette Z06, that should give your chills.

Here’s the mostly full transcript with Tadge with just a couple of trolling comments left off for brevity.

Q: Hi! Are you doing this simply because the Z06 made a ZR-1 version obsolete? (Displays photo of the Zora ZR1 spy photos)

TADGE: I’m afraid Car And Driver overpaid for a poor photoshop job. 😉

Q: How would you reply to the skeptics and other enthusiasts that are concerned that the new Z06 is being beat, in a straight line, by the previous generation ZR1’s?

TADGE: When you run a full tank of fuel through a Z06, the last lap (slowest lap) is faster than the first lap in a ZR1 (fastest lap). The Z06 is always faster than the ZR1 on the track.

Q: Any chance of a hybrid corvette in the future. Electric motors produce more power and torque for better performance possible four wheel drive.

TADGE: True, but they’re also heavy, expensive, and require batteries that take up all your luggage room.

Q: Can we get a wide body non supercharged Vette?

TADGE: If we did would you buy one?

Q: I heard Ford has a halo sports car now, and Dodge put 700+ horsepower in an old Mercedes. Can General Motors keep up?

TADGE: We’re pedaling as fast as we can. The Z06 is on the road right now and satisfying a great many customers.

Q: I learned recently that the grille on the Z06 directs more air into the engine than if the grille were removed. This seems like a good selling point and I was wondering if you could tell us more about it.

TADGE: That is true. It has been proven in many different tests and situations, we are astonished that it’s possible.

Q: How would you spec your Z06?

TADGE: Good question! I would get Z06 in laguna blue, with the 8 speed auto, blue interior with comp seats. No Z07 package.

Q: I realize that cost-cutting measures are inevitable with anything mass-produced. On the new Corvette, the worst example of this seems to be the paddle-shifters on the manual versions. It just doesn’t make any sense, but they still made it through because I’m assuming it’s cheaper to do that than designing a with-paddles and without-paddles version. The question is, what did the car gain as a result of this concession?

TADGE: Steering wheel mounted paddles are some of the most expensive switches on the car, it wasn’t done for cost cutting at all. The bean counters had a hissy fit over it. It’s expensive, but when you experience the rev matching, you’ll discover that having a convenient way to turn it on and off is priceless.

Q: I was buzzed by a Z06 the other week who had his foot buried into the loud pedal as he flew past me on the highway, and I found myself highly aroused. Is that a special feature in the calibration that does that?

Yes, we sell a recording of it as a non-medicinal form of Viagra.

Q: Hello Mr. Juechter thank you for stopping in today! my question is in regards to the ZO6 gaining a supercharger, why was that decision made? And why not have simply approached it with a different N/A setup something with individual throttle bodies?

TADGE: We looked at a number of different NA designs, even with the best tech applied, we could not meet our horsepower, durability, and emissions requirements for the lifecycle of this car. I was an NA fan, would loved to have done it.

Q: Will there be a more track focused take on the Z06 seeing as the C7 Z06 is heavier and seems more luxurious than previous Z06 models?

We have a few customer requests for a more pure, track focused model, and we are always studying potential future new products.

Q: Could we have a remote clutch bleeder available as a factory option for the C7? The part is so simple, and it’s so easy to install before the powertrain goes in the chassis. Access to the bleeder has been a real problem for three generations. It would be worth it for the customer goodwill alone.

TADGE: Thank you for your input, we’ll take a look at it.

Q: While working with the frame, what was the point where you decided it was strong enough to make a suitable convertible version, and why did you decide not to further strengthen the roof just because? Also, what are some tips for an undergrad entering automotive engineering?

TADGE: We increased the stiffness of the frame 60 percent to react the chassis loads we knew would come from the Z06 model, the performance of the frame is actually substantially improved with the roof in place.

Build something with your hands, get to know how to make things.

Q: What kind of hot weather track testing was done with the car? Do you think there is an easy-ish answer to the people who have experienced power loss during heavy driving?

TADGE: I don’t think that many people have. I know relatively few customers who have experienced power loss. We have shown the car to hundreds of highly skilled drivers on warm days on track, and there has been relatively little drop off in performance.

Q: During development, did you guys start down something similar to Ford’s 5.2 Voodoo, or did you always know that this car needed forced induction to hit the power number?

TADGE: We started with NA, found we couldn’t meet our requirements, so we changed to forced induction. We looked at a turbo as well, but for total vehicle performance, it wasn’t as good as the supercharged version.

Q: Is there anything you can spill about the rumored upcoming ZR1? After the amazingness of the C7, which was then topped by the mindblowingness of the Z06, it’s going to be hard to top what’s already been done.

TADGE: We left everything on the playing field with the Z06, we didn’t leave performance headroom for a ZR1.

Q: Did you intend for the black rear spoiler to resemble a mullet hairstyle? Because it does.

TADGE: Thanks for pointing that out

Q: What are your thoughts on the new Ford GT?

TADGE: I just looked at it 15 minutes ago, it’s a lovely design with obvious elements of historic Ford GTs with some modern features. I think the production car will look a bit different than what they are showing here in Detroit.

Q: 1) Will there be a ZR1?

2) Is this the end of the front mid-engine Corvette or will you be producing a family of Corvettes — front mid-engine and rear mid-engine indefinitely?

3) Can you please clear up the situation with people complaining about the shifting of the automatic transmission. Many seem to be disappointed and feel it does not compare to the PDK or it was misleading. In track mode, the response is instant. But in tour mode, it’s not quick like a PDK.

TADGE: 1) We don’t talk about future product, I’m sorry. Eventually all will be revealed.

2) Same as above.

3) It might not be quite as quick in manual mode but in terms of speed of shift on the track it’s wicked quick. The only way to assess it for the way you drive is to get in one and check it out.

Thank you.

Q: How do you think the Z06 will stack up against the new Ford GT? Did you have that car in mind when you engineered the Z06? Even though we peasants only found out about the GT today, I have a sneaking suspicion that you guys have known about it for a while.

TADGE: No, I found out about the car fairly recently. Nothing in the Z06 is designed with the GT in mind.

Q: Why did you decide to go soft with the track day version of the vette? Why not have a “track key” or something that richens up the mixture so it doesn’t go into limp mode ????

TADGE: I think if you get behind the wheel you’ll find that there is nothing soft about it.

Q: What is the life cycle of this Corvette? The C3 and C4 were built for too long, GM is doing a great job keeping the Corvette fresh recently, when will we see a redesign? Oh and bring back pop up headlights.

TADGE: We’re only on year two. You can expect us to be on the seventh generation architecture for a while.

Q: You’ve described how the entire steering system stiffness was increased significantly on the Stingray. What were some of the other structures and systems where you reduced compliance in to impact the ride and handling on the C7?

TADGE: We want to have impedence mismatch at all chassis attachment points, very stiff on the body side, very stiff control arms, highly tuned compliant bushings enable precise wheel motion geometry.

Q: I know you more then likely have been bombed with the Ford GT Questions but what about the NSX. It’s been on the show circuit forever. How does it stack up against the Z06? Doesn’t stand a chance? Has a Fair shot?

TADGE: It’s impressive on paper, the proof will be in the first tests. I suspect they’ll do a good job.

Q: What’s the Nurburgring lap time? When will we finally see video of a completed lap? It was such a big piece of the marketing… let’s hear it, and how it compares with the C6 Z06 and C6 ZR1

TADGE: We went to the ‘Ring last fall, and it rained almost the entire time. Never got one complete lap in. We could do a segment time, but we don’t do that, we only publish times that are run continuously. The best proxy for a ring time is the VIR Grand Course, which we ran in 2:41.3, 4.3 faster than a ZR1.

Do the math.

Q: Is there even the tiniest talks about an XLR successor? I know GM has a thing about making something that might eat into Corvette sales, but I’m sick and tired of seeing Mercedes-Benz SLs everywhere.

TADGE: If we did would you buy one?

Q: How do manufacturers decide which racing series or events they will race in? Do you push Chevy to participate in specific events?

TADGE: We try to race in the type of racing that is most replicating what our most extreme customers would do. That’s why we do endurance racing, trying to improve the breed and learn meaningful things that you can’t learn in other types of racing.


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