branding, Chevrolet, consumer behavior, Corvette, General Motors, marketing, Product Design, segmentation
For many consumers, Corvette is a brand unto itself, with little relation to its parent company Chevrolet or umbrella General Motors (GM) brand. This image was the result of a purposeful strategy by the carmaker, which wanted its sexy sports car in its own category, as Chevrolet relied on trucks like the Silverado or hybrids like the Volt to represent it.
But Corvette is also a long-standing, deeply appealing brand. As GM continues to fulfill its obligations to the U.S. government after the auto industry bailout, it needs every tool at its disposal to reawaken consumer interest and excitement. What better for that purpose than a brand new Corvette that promises the beauty, design, and thrill of the original Stingray?
The latest introduction started with the heart of the car: a 45-horsepower, V-8 LT1 engine whose two valves per cylinder are activated by pushrods and that produces 450 pound-feet of torque, mostly at lower engine speeds, resulting in a flexible, responsive engine. In addition to featuring modern advances, such as simultaneous control of intake and exhaust, this engine evokes the original 1955 Corvette engine with its small-block dimensions and basic design.
The new Corvette also represents a signal that Chevrolet is back in the car innovation business, after several lean years during its bankruptcy proceedings. It plans to introduce 12 more new models in the United States this year—“the biggest portfolio turn in automotive history,” according to GM’s North American Chief Mark Reuss. The turn is necessary, considering that GM currently accounts for just 17.9 percent of U.S. sales of cars and light trucks, well behind the market leader Ford, and at its lowest level since the 1930s.
The answer cannot be sales of Corvettes alone though; the base price for the new model has not yet been released, but last year’s version started around $50,000. By bringing the Corvette back under the Chevrolet and GM banner, the parent firms hope to spark sales of other product lines that can enjoy a spillover effect from the pure excitement of a new Stingray.
Source: Paul Stenquist, “Talking About a New Generation: A Redesigned Engine for Corvette,” The New York Times, January 18, 2013; Jeff Bennett and Joseph White, “GM’s New Corvette Begins Brand Update” The Wall Street Journal, January 13, 2013.