By now, we’ve all heard the big news from GM. CEO Mary Barra announced the storied US automaker “aspires” to be all-electric by 2035.
Oh, the hand-wringing and the pearl-clutching that ensued like the collective automotive world got its skirt blown up over its head. Doomsday declarations from every corner of social media were plastered across the web, most from armchair critics vowing never to buy a GM car again or predicting another bankruptcy. Good heavens.
GM (gm?) also managed to offend friends and foes alike. The gearheads were peeved and EV folks went on record that they didn’t “trust” GM after the embryonic EV1 concept was killed, over thirty years ago. Those enlightened EV folks sure know how to hold a grudge, yikes.
Having said all that, GM has an out-of-the-ballpark hit with the C8 Corvette. Introduced in the summer of 2019, the new model drastically lowered the age of a new Corvette prospect, and the average income of the C8 buyer is $76K higher than a C7 owner. With over 20k sold by now, the car has changed a lot of minds about Corvette. By all accounts, Tadge and company really hit the bullseye here.
For us Corvette peeps, the news that GM is going all-electric was a bit concerning because, after decades of waiting, we finally got our mid-engine, gas-powered Corvette. What is to become of the C8’s brand new, ICE based mid-engine architecture in this brave new world? How long will it survive?
Well, we think we’ve got good news. We predict the C9 Corvette will be to the C8, as the C6 was to the C5.
The C6 was essentially a C5 with all the rough edges smoothed out, and both generations each had an eight-year model run totaling sixteen years. While we will probably never see a production run as long for Corvette in the future, we can use these numbers to get a rough idea of what the future might hold.
Although Corvette will go all-electric in our lifetime, we’ve got fourteen long years before we get to the witching hour of 2035, so there is plenty of time for C8 V2.0. With all the R&D money invested in the C8’s exotic architecture, we predict that GM will want upwards of ten years of production to maximize the return on its latest brainchild. Let’s be crystal clear here though, there will not be another gas-powered Corvette developed after the life-cycle of the current car expires.
For the folks that are not huge fans of the C8’s busy styling, maybe a new C9 could melt away the myriad of sharp creases and borrow styling cues from GMs string of storied mid-engine concepts, see Indy Corvette for a glimpse of inspiration. Simplifying the interior and maybe even bring back four round tail lights, who knows? We know that every Corvette generation brings performance gains so expect a faster car too.
One thing’s for certain, the C8’s ICE architecture is obsolete in today’s time-warp automotive landscape. As long as there is a big lump of metal behind the seats, the C8 will never be all-electric because an EV doesn’t need radiators, transmissions, exhausts, hydraulic brake lines or bulky gas tanks. GM will move a new Corvette over to the Ultium platform and start anew without the aforementioned obsolete components. So the most electrified C8 we’ll see is the AWD E-Ray, with twin-electric motors at each front corner, debuting soon. But a hybrid is as far as it will go with an ICE based Corvette.
So for now, let’s all exhale a big sigh of relief knowing that we have almost ten years of gas-powered Corvettes left to buy and enjoy. While the C8 is still a hot seller, the frenzy is starting to cool, just as another parts shortage has conveniently cropped up.
Whatever the state of Bowling Green supply chain, we remember at the end of the C7’s run, a base coupe could be had for under $50K. So for all you die-hard ‘Vette fans out there, bide your time, wait until the prices cool a bit, then snap ’em when inventory goes over 60 days.
When will we see a refreshed C9 Corvette? As we gaze into our crystal ball, we predict the C8 will last five model years, matching the C2 production run. With its drivable chassis and nonstructural SMC skin, grafting a new body on the C8 should be easy breezy. If the C8’s five-year timeline comes to fruition, that would put the debut in 2024 as a 2025 model.
The best part of all this? The last generation of Corvette will have well over 100 years of ICE development under its belt and will be the best of its kind. Get a nice indoor space ready and love and preserve the last of the breed. You got give or take ten years.
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