When talking with Corvette enthusiasts about the upcoming C8 Mid-Engine Corvette, the questions we get the most have to do with price and storage space. I’m going to say it again (which doesn’t necessarily make it true, but it reinforces our opinions based on the rest of this story), the 2020 C8 Mid-Engine Corvette will be affordable and have plenty of storage space.
We bring this all up because a member over on the Corvette Forum named Zerv02 has got everyone stirred into a frenzy by saying he knows the price of the car will be $169,900! Now automotive headlines from Yahoo! Autos to Jalopnik are parroting the $170,000 price tag. Thankfully, most are doing it with a question mark following that statement.
We do give Zerv02 some kudos for his previous sketch of the C8’s interior, the first to be made public (and since rendered and refined by FVS with his input), but Zerv02 also made it clear that he doesn’t work for the automaker and wouldn’t have direct knowledge of pricing. As it would take a GM employee with a lot of juice to allow a civilian to sit in an uncamouflaged C8 Corvette, we think Zerv02 most likely got a preview of the interior as well as any pricing info from a vendor.
Here is what he said in the Corvette Forum thread he started called “$169,900, final price confirmed”:
$169,900 is a go,
if your in the “under 100k” camp, you will be disappointed.
Let the madness ensue……
Specuation on the price of the C8 Corvette has run as low as $57,000 from the folks at Automobile Magazine to this $169,900 price from Zerv02. And that could be true when you think about the multiple models and engine configurations that are planned for the C8. From a base model utilizing the current LT-engines to a 1,000-horsepower hybrid model that makes 800 hp from a twin-turbo V8 and an extra 200-hp with electric motors on the front wheels. So there will be some range between the different models. But saying the car will come out of the gate at an MSRP of $169,900 is just not going to happen.
Here are some reasons why we think the price will be substantially lower:
History: No new Corvette generation has ever been introduced with a significant price increase over the outgoing generation. For the C7 launch, the Corvette team used to say “if you can afford a C6 Corvette, you can afford the C7” before pricing was finally revealed at $52,000. Chevrolet would raise the price the Stingray’s price for three consecutive model years afterward, but that low introductory price sold a lot of new Corvettes. Check out these MSRP prices for Corvettes in the final year of a generation and then the new generation:
- 1982 Corvette: $18,290
- 1984 Corvette: $21,800
- 1996 Corvette: $37,225
- 1997 Corvette: $37,495
- 2004 Corvette: $44,535
- 2005 Corvette: $44,245
- 2013 Corvette: $50,575
- 2014 Corvette: $51,995
The Base Car Buyer: Of the four current level of Corvettes, the Stingray has the highest sales for a single model/trim sold. In some years, we’ve also seen the 1LT Base Stingray account for over 50% of all Stingrays sold as the low price point brings in those who have either stretched their car-buying budgets or first-time buyers who may not want (or know about) a lot of the available upgrades. Think of it this way, at these prices Chevy can sell three base MEs for every one high-performance car.
The Upsell: Chevrolet has never introduced its highest performance Corvette model first. With the introduction of the last three generations, the base Corvette coupes and convertibles come first, followed by the Z06 models. Many of the first model year buyers will upgrade to the Z06 when it comes out and some of those owners will upgrade to the ZR1 model as we just saw here with the 2019 ZR1. Starting at the highest price point first will take away those repeat buyers.
Scale: It’s our belief that GM can radically bring down the price of the C8 mid-engine Corvette based on scale. Just look what Corvette has done with carbon fiber use on production cars. It continually pushes the envelope on technology and then uses its manufacturing abilities to make it more affordable. The first years for new Corvette sales have always been a boon for GM. The 2014 Stingray had sales of over 37K units its first year, accounting for over $2 billion in sales.
Bankruptcy: The C7 Corvette was originally planned to be a mid-engine and a lot of work and money was put into the development and planning. And then came GM’s bankruptcy in 2009 which forced the automaker to extend C6 production. During bankruptcy, the future of the Corvette existing afterward was even debated. The model would survive as GM put the mid-engine plans on a shelf and came out with the front-engined Stingray in 2014. Many of the costs of the original mid-engine plans were wiped away with the “old GM” bankruptcy which today helps lower the overall development costs.
Cadillac: Cadillac has continually been mentioned in the same breath as Corvette in terms of whose brand the car will fall under it. If a Cadillac mid-engine sports car is working off the same platform as the C8 Corvette, as well as being assembled in the same plant as the Corvette, then Cadillac will also share in some of the mid-engine development and production costs with Chevrolet. Anybody see a mystery Cadillac key fob recently?
Honestly, I feel I could go on and on with this.
There is no doubt that the C8 will be a very different sports car for Chevrolet than previous generations. Sometimes I think that clouds the vision of Corvette enthusiasts because they see the mid-engine car as being so radically different and more exotic than the front-engine Corvette. But in the end, its “just a car” (gasp!) that still has to make a case to the GM bean counters for generating revenue. And we think sacrificing a hundred thousand or more base model sales for several thousand high-performance sales is a good way to go out of that business.
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