By on February 14, 2009

A mainstream carmaker has no business building niche products. Literally. For one thing, they’re hardly ever profitable. For another, even when they are, their profits are relatively insignificant. And most importantly, “halo cars” are four-wheeled glass and steel versions of Dumbo’s magic feather. They lead manufacturers to mistake cause with effect: if we build this, we must be good. In fact, any automaker that focuses its creative, financial and corporate resources on a halo car risks forgetting how to do what it did to get those resources in the first place—and an eventual plummet towards the circus floor. The Chevrolet Corvette may be only one of GM’s magic feathers, but it’s the most famous and, therefore, visible. GM should kill it, STAT.

Next week, GM’s heads head back to the bailout buffet. They’ll try to convince your elected representatives to provide another heaping helping of taxpayer bucks (a.k.a. federal loans). Both the company and its camp followers [sic] will, once again, concentrate on the numbers: union wages and benefits, bondholder debt-for-equity swaps, VEBA payments, the old SAAR, the projected SAAR, the car SAAR, who’s SAARy now, etc. And why not? As a Harvard MBA, General Motors lifer and former CFO, GM CEO Rick Wagoner never met a balance sheet he couldn’t dress-up for a party—even if it’s a freaker’s ball.

Which brings us back to the ‘Vette: the freaker’s ball pace car. The Chevrolet Corvette is a singular machine, a modern throwback that offers more bang for the buck than Marietta’s Bullet Stop. An enthusiast who buys one is beyond reproach, in the same sense that a homeowner who restores a Victorian pile deserves nothing by kudos. And? The Corvette is a brand anomaly; it’s as much a Chevy as a Cayenne is a Porsche, only less so. Again, the Corvette is awesome machine in and of itself. But out and outside of itself, it makes no sense.

Do Chevrolet products need a personality? Of course not. The Malibu is the proper template. It’s a car. Good mileage, reasonable price, adequate comfort, reliable (fingers crossed), not ugly. Value. While pistonheads worship at the temple of Bowling Green, Chevy buyers are busy bowling. They’re working class people who can’t afford a sports car, never mind one that costs $50K+. The new ‘Bu and old Impala are their best case scenario.

The only possible defense for this great landing at the wrong airport: symbolic value. “America’s sports car” and all that. Which is why Wagoner should announce its termination.

“Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, General Motor’s future hangs by a thread. The decisions we make today mean life or death for this great American enterprise. We take our responsibility seriously. GM can not—will not—shy away from the unpleasant parts of this monumental task.

“We have therefore decided to re-examine our entire brand and product portfolio, to decide which brands and vehicles can help us survive, and which vehicles and brands we must abandon to ensure our survival.

“It is with great regret that I must announce that General Motors will no longer build the Chevrolet Corvette.

“We here at General Motors are proud of the fine men and women who have designed and built this vehicle for generations of appreciative enthusiasts. But General Motors must leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of profitability. We must address our problems and shortcomings with unflinching honesty, and do whatever it takes to correct them.

“As part of this process, we are refocusing the Chevrolet brand. Chevy will now offer a limited range of entry-level automobiles. Each one of the brand’s three models will provide class-leading quality, comfort, fuel economy and value.

“The Corvette is a world class sports car. But it does not fit our mission-critical effort to restore Chevrolet, and thus GM, to profitability. We take our obligation to repay the generosity of the American taxpayer seriously. If we must sacrifice the Chevrolet Corvette to satisfy our obligations, we will do it.

“At some point in the near future, as soon as we can, the Corvette will rejoin GM’s fleet as a Cadillac. It will be a different car, with the same goal: to give enthusiasts the world’s best and most thrilling sports car, bar none. An all-American product.

“For those of you disappointed by this news, I’d like to point out that we are redoubling our efforts to deliver the plug-in Chevrolet Volt, a hybrid vehicle that will reinvent the way Americans drive. It’s a new kind of product that will help us refocus Chevy on what made the brand America’s most popular car brand.

“I thank you for your time and understanding. Rest assured that as painful as this is, the Corvette’s sacrifice will be GM’s gain.”

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185 Comments on “Editorial: General Motors Death Watch 232: The Chevy Corvette Must Die...”


  • avatar
    like.a.kite

    But, the Corvette! But, but… what? What? No!

    Isn’t the XLR on the Corvette platform?

  • avatar
    golf4me

    Dude, you’ve lost it.

  • avatar
    Packard

    . nonsense. The Corvette is one of the few GM products which is profitble. You don’t rescue GM by killing off its few profitable lines

  • avatar

    Rob, this is a troll…..not content. You have enough web hits not to reduce your quality.

  • avatar
    lw

    Most folks would agree that the Corvette is about the BEST value in a sports car…

    But is it profitable? I really have no idea if they make money on it or not…

    Anyone have the Vette sales volumes for the last 10 years?

    Likely a bubble in sales that will kill new Vette sales for the next 5 years or so.

    Pop goes the bubble!

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    Cutting a profitable automobile doesn’t make any sense (assuming the ‘Vette is profitable, which I think it is)

    Also, “halo effects” are mostly B.S., but the Vette is one case where there really is a valid halo effect. Everything from the common refrain ” GM makes good cars, look at the Malibu, CTS, Corvette,” to the taillights on the Cobalt coupe is a good reason why the ‘Vette should stay around

  • avatar
    Theodore

    Sorry, RF, you’ve lost the plot. Killing the Corvette would do nothing to help GM sales or profitability. It would be seen as a pointless gesture by a dying carmaker, thus driving potential customers even farther away. GM needs to get rid of bad cars and brands, not one of the few bright spots in its portfolio.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    What’s funny is the Corvette program is one of the few halo cars that has been profitable from a total business perspective. The motorsports (yes, motorsports makes lots of money – just as Ferarri) program at GM exists because of the Vette, and few would argue that the Vette brand has been mismanaged.

    There are numerous other halo cars that drain the overall profitability of their parent company, but the Vette is not one of them. You could make the argument that the Vette is the wrong car for the here and now – but then so are most of the cars you see being parked in overflow lots. There are dozens of cars available now that will result in a net loss for their parent companies once you look back at the investment and bump that up against the paltry volume.

    Killing the Vette now would be a rash decision that would have negative implications on GM believing it can turn its fortune around. I realize many pine desperately for a GM failure, but killing the Vette is the last thing anyone wants if they believe GM will stick around. And last I checked over 2/3 of your blog content of late centers around the hot topic where your audience responds to the efforts to keep GM around. Maybe this editorial is just a Metaphor for GM closing its doors.

    If we fix a line from the faux quote:
    It is with great regret that I must announce that General Motors will no longer build [anything]…

    The funny thing is that the Vette embodies a business practice that is contrary to normal GM thinking. The Vette persists over decades with a solid vision, and the people on the Vette program know their long-term plan. We can only dream that GM would ever behave as such where all their employees shared the same strategic vision and dedication as those on the Vette program.

  • avatar
    lw

    @ Packard

    Nonsense? How many Corvettes are you buying this year? Better be ALOT…

    Profits aren’t based on a single sale.. you need to reach a minimum volume to make a line profitable and then you can make money on each sale.

    I have no fact and data, but I can’t believe Vette sales are holding up in this economy. They are likely below the minimum volume and GM is losing money on every unit.

    IF GM had lots of cash, a better approach might be to run the Vette factory full out.. Build up a 1 year supply, announce these will be the last C7s ever built and then sell every one at a premium. Assuming GM recovers they can design and build the C8 in 5 years or so.

  • avatar
    boredlawstudent

    this is snark, right?

  • avatar
    lw

    I vote for a 5 year coma… Death is so final….

  • avatar
    ca36gtp

    I really hope this is some kind of early April Fools’ joke, because this is some of the silliest garbage I’ve ever read on TTAC.

  • avatar
    lw

    If it’s a joke, I fell for it. Seems very reasonable to me.

  • avatar
    golf4me

    ca36gtp, you must be new here.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    @lw:

    Remember, the overall profit equation includes total investment dollars (tangible and intangible), number of units, margin per unit, salvage value, and ancillary costs/benefits enabled by the implementation of the decision.

    Many people use volume as a measuring stick for success. This is mostly appropriate since volume vehicle programs depend on (gasp) volume. But you would make critical mistakes if you held volume as the only metric in your assumptions.

    The more cars you build, the higher your investment will be. A carmaker building a few custom rides in a garage will have more tooling and facilities compared to what it takes to build Civics. The Vette exists in a very odd scenario where it has positive impact on other facets of the organization.

  • avatar
    TZ

    I checked the calendar and it’s quite surprisingly not April 1st.

    The Corvette is the face of the brand. It gets people into dealerships, where they buy the Malibus and Impalas you mention.

    It’s one of only bright spots left at Chevy. Nothing would say “desperation” more than discontinuing it.

    By the way, the base Corvette is nowhere near $70,000.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    There is nothing rational about the Corvette. The Corvette should stand for the principle that you don’t have to be rational all the time. Following that principle, if the rational thing to do is to kill the Corvette, the Corvette should not be killed.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    There are so many reasons why the Corvette should not be built as it is – it’s way out of Chevy’s marketing reach; it’s way out of most Chevy owners’ purchasing reach; it’s way out of any reasonable environmental measure for a car; and for some, it’s just way out. And yet, all this hand-wringing about the American auto industry doesn’t mean we stop building the fun stuff.

    If anyone will take the time to look overseas, they’ll see that Japan is bailing out the Japanese makers, and Germany is looking for ways to help Mercedes Benz and BMW. Everyone is hurting and looking for government help. Yet, the GTR-s and the Black M-B’s continue to roll out to tease and amaze us. Only in America, however, do we think such aid is an admission of failure and that our punishment should be to sit in the corner and contemplate our sins. No more ice cream for us!

    There’s much needed to make the ‘Vette a better car, starting (and ending) with the interior. I’d make sure that some of that government money went to a new suit for the Corvette’s insides. The idea that it should be discontinued is the natural conclusion of a government bureaucrat and leads me to only one conclusion: Robert wants to be the nation’s car czar.

  • avatar
    Packard

    The Corvette has been profitable for years, for two simple reasons.

    First, once the design investment and tooling investment has been made, the cost of building additional units is parts plus labor. That’s not amortizing the investment, of course. But, amortization is an accounting fiction, not an actual cash flow cost.

    GM has traditionally built the Corvette for over a decade before redesigning it. The original ’63 platform served until 1984 – over 20 years. The current Corvette is the car that shouldn’t have been built, because C5 sales volume was still excellent. The C6 exists solely because GM needed another line’s volume to justify the investment required to produce the Caddy XLR. That was a dumb move, again, by GM (like the Allante).

    But, now that it is being produced, volume need not be high to keep it profitable. The Bowling Green plant is, in fact, one of those which is currently shut down, as sales volume for the Corvette has dropped. But, the Corvette market consists of rather loyal customers of a well-heeled nature.

    Which, of course, brings up another point. GM doesn’t have many brands which have a customer base with the loyalty of the Corvette buyer. For many Corvette purchasers, the only possible replacement for the current car is a new Corvette. They don’t cross-shop.

    Killing the Corvette is simply a stupid idea.

    And, I’ve owned four – not buying one now, true. But, so what?

  • avatar
    lw

    @ holydonut

    Agreed. Lots of variables. Should be interesting to see what happens in the next few weeks.

    Either way red ink Rick is reduced to executing Obama’s decisions.

    Do we know if Obama is a Mustang man?
    Could get interesting if he’s a Hemi guy…

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    Huh?

    The ‘Vette shouldn’t be killed! Throughout the years, it’s been an example of just how good GM could build cars if it just gave a damn.

    Yes, there has been a few hiccups (ie. the digital dash), but the ‘Vette has usually managed to avoid the death touch of GM’s beancounters. Hell, it even managed to improve under Wagoner’s watch!

    It’s obvious that Corvette development is truly something different than other GM products. What GM needs to do is develop ALL its products the same way it does the ‘Vette.

    The only thing that truly makes sense is making the Corvette a Cadillac, especially if GM can keep the Camaro on for Chev.

  • avatar
    fdefulvio

    Of all the biased, anti-American articles on this site, this is by far the most outragous yet. What are you smoking? Killing the Corvette would probably do more harm than good to GM. While they are at it, maybe GM should just stop making 8 cyl. engines, or better yet, only have one 4 cyl. engine available in all models. That should save some money. Kill off all full size cars… and does anyone really need a two-door? All cars should only be available in a four-door, with one trim level. And let’s make black be the only color available. Wait, white paint would probably be cheaper. And couldn’t they save money by not including any emblems or logos? It’s all about giving the consumer a choice, and as long as the consumer is buying Vettes, GM will keep making them.

  • avatar
    50merc

    The editorial and comments beg the real question: how much does GM make or lose on each product line? GM surely knows. Heck, the company is run (formally at least) by a bookkeeper! And since Uncle Sam (that is, all of us schnooks who pay income tax) is now a major investor in the company, aren’t we entitled to know?

  • avatar
    lw

    @ fdefulvio

    “It’s all about giving the consumer a choice, and as long as the consumer is buying Vettes, GM will keep making them.”

    So Corvette sales are holding strong? I wasn’t aware…

    If sales are holding at 2006/2007 levels then long live the Corvette.

    If not, time for a coma..

    Any have Corvette sales figures for the last 3-5 years?

  • avatar
    bluecon

    I wouldn’t worry about this.
    With the government running the car companies the cars will soon leap backwards to the 1950′s level of the roads.

    After collapsing the economy with the house for everyone plan now it will be a Trabant for everyone!

  • avatar

    Corvette sales for January

    2008: 2015
    2009: 842

    Current incentives

    $2000 rebate
    5.9% financing

    I’m sure GM knows the profit/loss on each model, which I’d also like to know. But my main point is that killing the Corvette would be a much-needed wake-up call to all GM “stakeholders,” that wouldn’t cost the company a lot.

    If you have any alternative suggestions how to draw a line in the sand, I’m all ears.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    A very interesting editorial, and 800+ words of complete enthusiast heresy. But we’re talking about the survival of GM, and any distraction that bleeds money and resources should be considered expendable. There should be no sacred cows, save profitability. The platform-sibiling XLR has been axed, so why not go all the way?

    Alternative: Saab, Hummer, and Saturn have so far no takers. But the sale of Corvette? There’s got to be a buyer, even at the annual selling rate of 10-11K/yr.

    Edit: Vette sales were down 58% last month; so much for those loyal and well-heeled buyers. Will they be back before GM goes C11? Car sales are going to be in the cellar for the next few years.

  • avatar
    cypris87

    One of these points is not like the others. Make what you will.

    1) I don’t feel like the numbers in the carpocaliptic situation all the automakers are in right now are really poinient. If you look at profitability of the sales over the last 5 years, that would.

    2) The ‘vette is no longer a Chevy. Correct me if I’m wrong, but there is no longer a Chevrolet badge on a Corvette, except the little spec on the Corvette flags, which you could remove and no one would notice.. Yes, it is sold ad Chevy dealerships, and is under Chevrolet on the website, but nothing about that car is Chevy.

    3) The Corvette as a halo car brings added value to other cars within the GM lineup. Take the engine for example. Realistically, if it wasn’t for the continued engineering put forth to make a better engine for the car, you wouldn’t have that awesome engine in a Caddy. Someone who follows the advances in the ‘vette over the years would probably be able to elucidate this more, but there’s more than just sharing that engine, things that make an even bigger difference to GM’s bottom line being higher, that it brings to the table.

    4)Yes, the interior needs some work, but correct me if I’m wrong: almost every GM car needs something in that area.

  • avatar
    lw

    842 sales? Ouch… I adjust my previous statement…

    Already in a coma…

    Will Obama keep the lights on?
    Given the new stimulus, is Corvette now covered by Medicare?
    Will Dr. House rush in and find a miracle cure?

    STAY TUNED FOR THESE ANSWERS AND MUCH MUCH MORE!!!

  • avatar
    IGB

    That’s not terrible volume in the large scheme of things. It’s a single vehicle line in an absolutely abysmal economy.

    In terms of daily sales volume, it’s almost as much (not quite) as all of Saab or all of Hummer. Lots to dump before the Corvette.

    Look what the engineering has spawned: XLR (I know), CTS-V, GTO, G8 GXP. Nothing (really) bad here.

    As a marketing tool, Corvette = Chevy. Motorsports, heartbeat and all that.

    Right now, it’s the economy for everything and everyone, even UberToyota. The Corvette should not be tossed with the bathwater. The loyal and well heeled have their tails between their legs like everyone else.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    Now you are just being silly. This place is getting more and more like listening to Rush Limbaugh every day. I like listening to Rush, it’s really entertaining, but I don’t take much i hear there very seriously.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    At every auto show I’ve ever attended, Corvette and other high power sports cars are the ones people crowd around, bump and push to get inside, fantasize over.

    Those cars exist because manufacturers desire to have halo projects to build brand recognition, explore and test new technologies, and boost employee morale. If they are to be affordable by customers, they won’t be perfect.

    If not GM, then who should build cars like the Corvette?

  • avatar
    montgomery burns

    OK, can I play too?

    Here are some production numbers to chew on:
    C6
    08; 35,310
    07: 40,561
    Total so far 147,264

    C5 97-04
    02: 35,767 (best year)
    Total 248,715

    C4 84-96
    84: 51,547 (best year, most years 20-25k)
    Total 366,227

    C3 68-82
    79: 53,807 (best year. one reason the C4 was delayed was because the C3 was still selling well)
    Total 542,741

    Carry on.

  • avatar
    Jim_p

    Actually in this economy 842 sales is pretty good. To compare the two Januarys without correcting for the state of the economy is lying with statistics. I look at this and say, wow with all hell braking loose they still sold 842 Corvettes in January.

    The Corvette is one of the last things that GM should stop building. Insofar as being a gas guzzler, the Corvette easily gets 27 miles per gallon at 70 miles per hour (mine does).

    Mr. Farago has no idea of the profitability of the Corvette and to make his point he says that even if it makes money, it probably isn’t alot of money. So he doesn’t really care about profit, he wants GM to kill the Corvette to make a point. His point comes from his desire to show the world that GM is now different. In the movies the bad guy kills an associate to show that he is seriously bad. Mr. Farago wants something dramatic and serves up the Corvette.

    The Corvette is the one car that GM builds that is a dream for many Americans. When I was 16 I saw my first Corvette and said to myself, “Someday I’m going to own one”, I have had five and own one today. My grandkids always want me to drive to their house in the Corvette so that they can go for a ride.

    I autocross my Corvette and almost always a young man will come up to me during the event and ask to come along on a run. The Corvette is a very important image car for GM. It is one of the last items that should be discontinued not one of the first.

    If GM discontinued the Corvette it would gut my belief that GM will actually survive. I think Rick Wagoner understands this and will not take Mr. Farago’s bonehead advice.

  • avatar
    ajla

    -Doing this would be like the US selling the Statue of Liberty to China to pay off a fraction of a giant debt. The mental blow would be way bigger than the financial good it does.

    -I think you are vastly underestimating the anger this would cause among GM loyalists. These loyalists are GM’s last customer base, and killing off the Corvette would cause many of them to leave GM for good. GM can’t alienate their only base without gaining new customers. Where are these new customers coming from? What non-enthusiast venicle could GM build to earn customers from Honda/Toyota, assuming these two companies don’t slip up?

    -GM can’t kill the Corvette but release the Camaro a few months later without looking insane. The V8 versions of the G8, Trailblazer SS, Impala SS, and the Cobalt/HHR SS would probably have to go too just to keep the “we are now a mainstream brand” focus consistent.

    -We know that GM is basically toast no matter what, so why bother with doing this? Do you think killing off all the enthusiast cars in GM’s lineup and releasing the Volt and new Lacrosse will really save GM?

  • avatar
    MagMax

    If it’s profitable, why kill the Corvette? But why does the Corvette have to be a Chevrolet? There’s nothing Chevrolet about it nowadays and there hasn’t been for many years. Why couldn’t it be a GM Corvette, along with a lower priced partner, the GM Camaro? In fact, why can’t General Motors take the few models with some redeeming qualities — and reasonable sales figures — from its flagging Pontiac and Buick line-ups and offer them simply as GM models? There would be 3 Divisions: Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GM, each with its unique models. The specific survivors from the current Pontiac and Buick line-ups (maybe Enclave, Lacrosse, G8) would be sold as GMs along with the Corvette and Camaro. Dealers would have either a Chevrolet franchise or a Cadillac/GM franchise. Chevrolet has the entry level vehicles + trucks; GM has the intermediate and niche vehicles + suv and crossover vehicles; Cadillac has the top quality luxury vehicles, but no more damned trucks, no matter how much chrome is on the wheels. At least with this plan each franchise would have a chance to make enough sales to keep a dealer afloat.

  • avatar
    TheRealAutoGuy

    At best: Robert is uninformed about the business case for the Corvette.

    At worst: Trolling on the part of the Editor.

  • avatar

    Corvette has no place in the Cadillac brand. In fact, if GM wants an enthusiast “brand” maybe Corvette should stand on its own… AFTER the ducks are in a row in the other divisions.

  • avatar
    lowinor

    You are out of your ever-loving mind.

    It’s profitable. It’s a halo car. It’s a profitable halo car.

    It’s a profitable halo car that you actually see on the streets on a regular basis.

    Now, this isn’t to say that the work on the C7 doesn’t need to be delayed until GM is in better shape, but discontinuing the Corvette is ludicrous — in dire financial straits, you suggest stopping production of a profitable three-year-old platform that not just sells cars but sells posters?

  • avatar
    golf4me

    According to this reasoning, here are other cars that must be killed solely based on sales and/or profitability:

    1 series (I) 716
    Z4 45
    Durango 502
    Compass 819
    S class (I) 516
    SL class (I) 133
    SLK class (I) 172
    Navigator 662
    Volvo 30 series (I) 220
    40 series (I) 400
    50 series (I) 136
    60 series (I) 275
    70 series (I) 833
    80 series (I) 473
    Escalade ESV 672
    Escalade EXT 335
    G5 767
    Solstice 304
    Sky 194
    9-3 (I) 523
    9-5 (I) 101
    RDX 801
    MX-5 Miata (I) 419
    RX-8 (I) 156
    Eclipse 472
    Eclipse Spyder 468
    GT-R (I) 94
    Quest 646
    Boxster (I) 144
    911 Carrera/Carrera 4 (I) 445
    Cayman (I) 122
    Lexus LS (I) 904
    Scion xD (I) 967
    A5/S5 (I) 603
    A6/S6 (I) 776
    A8/S8 (I) 95
    R8 (I) 107
    TT (I) 157

  • avatar
    kaleun

    Technically the Corvette should be a Cadillac. Chevy is a “volkswagen” not an audi. VW already failed by elevating VW brand with the Phaeton.

    The only reason it still worked for GM to mix expensive and cheap cars in one brand, is the Corvette has a long tradition. Other than that no reason for me if I had $ 70K to spare on a car that is from the same brand as the one the highschool kid down the road has. Having a brand with Aveo for $ 10 K and $70 K cars doesn’t really work.

    Maybe they should just a “corvette” brand? (sell that at the same dealer as Cadillac) (still, kill/sell Hummer, Buick, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn).
    At least VW is not dumb enough to sell the Bughatti as a VW.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I think that it helps to recognize that at least in the American auto market, only Toyota and Honda can get away with avoiding halo models. Their brand reputations for quality are so solidly established that they don’t need them.

    But everyone else does need them. Nissan brought back the Z precisely because its absence from the lineup hurt the brand’s legacy, which encouraged buyers of mainstream cars to shop elsewhere. The lack of a sports car took credibility away from Nissan’s other products. VW used the New Beetle as a sort of halo car (obviously from the cute, not the sports angle), and not only sold quite a few of them, but also sold more Jetta’s because of them.

    Cutting the halo projects would also be bad for internal morale and R&D. Having these cars gives stylists and engineers roles to which they can aspire, and the development efforts that go into sports cars should filter down to other vehicles. These might keep some of the best people from heading for the door, and some of the development costs should be indirectly amortized across other vehicles.

    GM does a rotten job of using the Vette as a brand building gateway product to other Chevys. The sensible thing to do would be to create some obvious styling relationship between the Corvette and other cars in the Chevrolet lineup so that the Vette isn’t completely disconnected from those others, as it is now.

    As it stands now, they could sell the Corvette without any parent brand at all and be done with it, which tells you that something is missing, not from the Vette, but from General Motors and Chevrolet. It’s just another example of GM management incompetence, a theme from which there seems to be no escape.

  • avatar
    SteelEddie

    Transverse leaf springs…enough said

  • avatar
    BDB

    With all due respect (not trying to flame) this is the worst idea that has ever been posted here.

    Killing off one of its best models with wide name recognition and brand equity would be really, monumentally dumb for GM.

    The Vette as a Caddy just doesn’t compute, either. It would be as weird as having a Lincoln Thunderbird. If the Vette ever should be moved to another brand, it should be a Pontiac not a Caddy! It is a high-performance sports car, not a luxury car.

    “Maybe they should just a “corvette” brand?”

    They do this overseas with the Vette. It’s just “The Corvette”, not the “Chevrolet Corvette”.

  • avatar
    Jared

    Robert, as others have pointed out above, if you actually believe this then you’ve completely lost the plot.

  • avatar
    IGB

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090214/ts_alt_afp/useconomyautogm_20090214163738

    Wow, filing might be coming tuesday?

  • avatar
    BDB

    “I think that it helps to recognize that at least in the American auto market, only Toyota and Honda can get away with avoiding halo models.”

    I think the Prius is a halo car of a different sort. And Honda had the NSX for a while.

  • avatar
    WEGIV

    Sorry, this is absolute nonsense.
    I expect better from TTAC. If you don’t have solid evidence (or at least a credible anonymous source) to corroborate your assertion that the Corvette loses money, previous commenters are right, you’re being a troll. If not a troll, just woefully short-sighted.
    Is the Corvette selling right now? No, but is anything else either?? Will it sell when the economy picks up? Yes, absolutely. If it’s not there, that’s money GM is simply leaving on the table.
    The ZR1 is probably going to have to die. Two years ago it would have sold like crazy. Now? Not so much. But the base/Z51 car is still attainable for middle class folks, they just might have to save for it instead of going and signing on the dotted line for 0% for 60 months, or pulling equity out of their house to buy it.

    I’d argue that the ‘Vette is the template for what all GM cars should be. Not from the perspective of big pushrod V8, fiberglass and two seats, but from the perspective that it represents the antithesis of GM’s groupthink, “design by committee” methods that have plagued many of their cars for the better part of two decades now. Do cars need a personality? For some people, I agree no. But are you seriously recommending that GM abandon the significant minority who expect a bit more from a car? Should I just go buy a BMW instead of expecting something fun to drive from the home team? There’s a reason why we don’t *all* drive Camrys and Accords, and GM can meet the demands of both markets, they aren’t mutually exclusive.

    The Corvette represents intense focus (compared with GM’s other products) on making the driving experience rewarding, focus on weight savings as a performance and economy improvement, and (like Porsche, BMW and other highly regarded marques) a consistently produced nameplate that has undergone continuous improvement for decades. This site has spent considerable pixel space in the past raging about the fact that Detroit doesn’t pick a few car names and stick with them to take advantage of long-held brand identity, and now you’re recommending killing the most recognizable of all American cars outside of maybe the Viper, to maybe bring it back sometime in the indeterminate future? Maybe sorta like they’ve done with the Camaro?

    Also, bust on the interior all you want, but I’d argue that the Corvette engineers know their market.
    They are building a car with some trade offs in order to provide maximum bang for the buck, with the full understanding that most of their buyers are getting it because it’s a convertible with a big V8 burble, that is comfortable loafing along with the top down for a cruise-in, being a daily driver, but can be driven at 7/10s by the most ham-fisted of pilots.
    And thanks to its low tech but race-proven and again, continuously improved drivetrain, it’s nearly bulletproof, modifications are easy to find, and it comes with a 100K mile warranty and 28 Mpg highway to boot.

    As has been said, the ‘Vette is the aspirational car. Back when GM had brand differentiation, the idea was that each brand was a move-up from the last (Chevy, Buick, Olds, topping out with Cadillac). Now that this unique identity is largely gone, the ‘Vette is what everyone aspires to one day. Even though the drivetrain trickles down to other cars, the Corvette is still the one that is agreed to be the top of that heap.

    Maybe GM has to shelve the next redesign until after its fortunes improve, and reduce the volumes it’s producing, but it can’t kill it altogether. Period.

  • avatar
    Packard

    If you’re going to decide what car lines should live, based on sales, you’d off everything that GM, Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Mercedes, and most of Toyota make, along with Nissan and others.

    The question, though, is not really sales volume, but the profit able to be made by the continued production of the vehicle.

    The thing that makes building cars a tough business is that it takes a whole lot of money to develop a new car and, by the time it’s all spent and the car is introduced, public tastes may have changed, and the car may not return the investment over it’s life.

    BUT, once that money is spent, it’s spent. You don’t get any of it back by offing the model. The cost of continuing to build the vehicle is what it costs to buy the parts and pay the labor. All the rest is money you already spent. If you can sell it for more than it costs to manufacture it – parts, labor, and electric bills at the plant – you’re adding to the cash flow.

    Corvettes have always been profit centers for GM. They use engines developed for trucks. The transmissions are either outsourced or developed for other GM applications. The cars stay in production for a long time without much in the way of changes, and historically demand has always been at least 20,00 per year, even in bad economies.

    In the end, of course, none of this may matter. Whether GM goes bankrupt with US debtor in possession financing or gets more federal dole money, the politicians have screwed up the economy so completely, and have so seriously dedicated themselves to making it worse, that the chances that GM could surivive even if it had intelligent management seem slim. As it does not have intelligent management, there’s really no hope and this thread will, in retrospect, seem little more than a pleasant Saturday diversion – akin to having a last brandy in the first class lounge of the Titanic.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    @golf4me: The Durango is dead (for now, says Chrysler), and the Quest has a death sentence. There are cars that ought to be axed from a cash flow standpoint such as the Solstice/Sky but are still around thanks to their emotional value, as Pch101 just expanded upon. Volvo and Saab are brands with momentum clearly in the wrong direction. And then there’s the Pontiac G5, whose existence defies logical explanation.

    However, many other vehicles on your list are products built on shared/platforms and production lines. Some are also global products, and US sales are just part of the big picture. The Corvette, on the other hand, is mostly sold in the States. It’s built in a dedicated factory along with the terminal XLR, and when the factory is down, it’s losing GM (and taxpayers’) money.

    @Packard: if not attempting to sip brandy as the Titanic is going fully vertical, at least way for RF to increase page hits on an otherwise slow day.

  • avatar
    lmike51b

    Great idea! Let’s take something we do really well and stop doing it. Maybe that’ll work?

  • avatar
    don1967

    “The Corvette… gets people into dealerships, where they buy the Malibus and Impalas”

    Yes, have you got a Candy Apple Z06 in stock? My wife and I have been looking everywhere and… hey! Wow! Is that an Impala over there?!

    Please. The Corvette is nice, but it does nothing for a dying automaker. Perhaps GM should look to Hyundai for an idea of how to increase sales in a down market.

  • avatar
    James2

    If the point is for Wagoner to make dramatic statements just to please the retards in D.C., then point taken. But there are other ways to show them that GM is serious about reforming its business, and killing ALL of Pontiac, Buick and GMC would be one of them vs. just shrinking their lineups. (I’m assuming here that GM is able to off-load Hummer and Saab. Otherwise, I’d kill them as well.)

    The feds can help here by writing a law that renders all state franchise laws moot so that GM doesn’t have to fight 50 different battles –and doesn’t have to fork over money it doesn’t have to placate these dealers. The brain-deads in Congress seem to want a sacrificial lamb or two, so here the dealers are the low-hanging fruit.

  • avatar

    Farago, are you familiar with the Moral Event Horizon? The millions of Corvette fans who will be pissed if their car is killed off would like to think of such an event as a Moral Event Horizon.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Perhaps GM should look to Hyundai for an idea of how to increase sales in a down market.

    Fleet sales?

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    RF…..I getcha. +1 Most of GM’s stakeholders have continued to live in a state of denial since last fall….this would indeed be the perfect message to ignite the passion and urgency which has been missing from GM’s, and the UAW’s top management for several years, if not decades. If they won’t rally to save the iconic ‘Vette, then they won’t rally for anything…..

  • avatar
    golf4me

    Chen, I know and agree, it was just a quick illustration. But, even models with “shared platforms” or so-called “world cars” devour huge amounts of development money to differentiate, or meet US standards & certifications. Maybe not as much as a stand alone model, but surprisingly substantial. If GM were a little smarter in the future, they’d make more variations off the Corvette chassis like they tried with the XLR (but better-executed), maybe a Nomad, I-4 or V6 powered smaller roadsters to replace the Sky/Solstice, etc. I hope they do that next time around to make a better business case for the next Vette, because there is a sliver of sense to what Robert is trying to say.

  • avatar
    don1967

    “Fleet sales?”

    Yes, fleet sales. Either that or – and please try to stay with me here – by building good-quality cars that hit all the right buttons for average folks, armchair quarterback opinions be damned.

  • avatar

    Either that or – and please try to stay with me here – by building good-quality cars that hit all the right buttons for average folks, armchair quarterback opinions be damned.

    … like the Corvette?

    Farago, if the Corvette community finds out about this, you’d better be ready for the onslaught…

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    There are many things to kill first before the Corvette. Like many of the endless amount of brands GM has.

    I can see maybe delaying a refresh, but not canning the whole car.

  • avatar
    TR3GUY

    Naw it’s a pretty minor part of their problems. Sure move it to another brand or sell it at them all doesn’t matter. Improve the interior and build quality and leave it. I guess it’s sold at Chevy because it’s a high end car that is designed to appeal to that segment. Why Bob Noavak drives one I don’t know. It’s a manly American car I guess.

  • avatar

    I have never seen a study linking a halo car and a sales boost for its lesser-priced sibs. Never. Not one. Despite tens of million lavished on these executive ego-stroking projects (Ford GT much?).

    It’s simply assumed that small volume halo cars are a good thing. Nonsense. They are an expensive waste of time, effort and money. The average buyer couldn’t give a shit that the company that made his Malibu makes a Corvette. If he or she even knows.

    [Personally, I have a soft spot for ugly ducklings and brand mutants. I once owned a Porsche Cayenne. I would have bought a VW Phaeton. And I\'m looking at buying a Lexus IS-F. But as an auto exec, I would have never green-lighted ANY of these brand defiling models.]

    As Corvette historians will tell you, GM was close to closing down the model at least once. Well, GM is in the [last] fight for its life. In fact, this is war. Take no prisoners time. The brands must be culled and then fixed. The models within those brands must be culled and then fixed. There’s no room for the Corvette in a proper Chevrolet.

    Assuming Pontiac’s death, the Corvette only makes sense as a Caddy. Although, saying that, GM’s failure to fully develop or properly market the XLR is very worrying indeed.

    Which brings to mind another point…

    I am great admirer of the independent, entrepreneurial spirit sheltering within Corvette. They’ve built a great car despite GM, not because of it. For how many years have people bitched and moaned about the quality of the ‘Vette’s interior? How many times did GM Car Czar Bob Lutz promise to sort that out?

    If you love this car, don’t you think Corvette would be better off WITHOUT the GM corporate mothership dragging it into the mire? Better car, better sales, better service?

  • avatar
    TEW

    Killing the Corvette would be the worst thing GM could do. It is a showcase of the best that GM has to offer. By GM killing the Corvette they would be admitting that they can’t build a decent car and can only build rental cars. I have yet to see an Aveo fan club but the Corvette fans travel and very loyal to the car.

    RF I don’t see the Corvette changing into a Caddy well. A car with such tradition can’t just change brands after 50 years.

  • avatar
    rdodger

    Corvette Coupe MSRP $51,745
    GMS $44,773

    Corvette Z06 MSRP $84,265
    GMS $72,438

    One line, no waiting

  • avatar
    don1967

    If the Corvette is such a valuable product, then where are all the buyers looking to take it off GM’s hands?

    Sorry guys, but most of you are looking at this as auto enthusiasts rather than from the business perspective.

  • avatar
    ajla

    If you love this car, don’t you think Corvette would be better off WITHOUT the GM corporate mothership dragging it into the mire? Better car, better sales, better service?

    No, I think GM does a good job on the car. Plus, the GM association is the only thing that keeps it from being priced into exotic range. I’m not interested in seeing the Corvette become a Shelby Series 1, Spyker C8, or Panoz Esperante.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Robert makes a reasonable point in questioning the utility of halo vehicles for mainstream automakers. It’s no accident that the Corvette has been the longest-surviving American two seater – for decades GM was the largest and most stable of the U.S. automakers. If indeed the Corvette has achieved steady profitability, that is only because of the many years GM could afford to pump money into the Corvette skunk works.

    The question at hand today is whether GM can afford to continue the Corvette. As the more thoughtful commentators have displayed, there are reasonable arguments on both sides.

    I don’t think Robert is being a troll, as some have suggested. This posting is typical of his argumentation style: Robert doesn’t do subtlety. He also seems to enjoy the notoriety of being provocative. From a sociological perspective, you’ve got to give him credit for having the balls to skewer one of the biggest sacred cows among American gearheads. If nothing else, this is very good entertainment.

    That said, I think Robert’s modest proposal reflects his tendency toward analyzing the auto industry in stark white/black, either/or dichotomies. He doesn’t merely suggest that halo vehicles are overrated, he declares with biblical finality that “a mainstream carmaker has no business building niche products.”

    As a general rule of thumb, perhaps. But always? That strikes me as an overly dogmatic approach that limits innovation.

    As for the Corvette, I think it is too early to cut bait. If the high-end sports car market disappears for an extended period of time then mothballing the Corvette might make sense. However, I’d be more inclined to follow in Nissan’s footsteps with the Z by finding ways to share more parts with other GM cars. The glory days of a dedicated production facility may be over, and the Corvette may also need to go down market, both regarding price and gas mileage in base models. But discontinuing the Corvette altogether?

    That WOULD be the death of GM.

  • avatar
    lw

    This is pretty simple… We are in a massive global depression… Needs replace wants.. Luxuries are neither affordable on a large scale nor is it appropriate to drive a new Corvette home past the Sheriff who is evicting your neighbors.

    GM is going either Ch 11 or Ch 7… It’s Obama’s call… Assuming Ch 11, the government is the primary bond holder and decides what should be built.

    Pelosi, Reid and Obama will make these decisions.. Thank godness they are car people..

    Oh wait.. My bad…. They hate cars since cars destroy the earth…

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    lw, recall that the Great Depression didn’t permanently kill off the American luxury car market. Yes, luxury brands tended to move downmarket. Those that didn’t often failed. But the field did bounce back. Those automakers that kept a foothold in the luxury market were eventually rewarded handsomely.

    BTW, your oversimplistic potshots against Democrats don’t help your argument.

  • avatar

    GM could most likely continue making the Corvette, but will instead have to let it stagnate on whatever technology it currently has while the company moves its focus on the more important bread & butter vehicle technology it needs to survive on. Limit the production run also. Like it’s been said already, the market will come back and they can get back to work on the Vette then.

    Put the ‘Vette team to work on the Malibu or Impala or some other crappy car in their lineup and make those viable against a Honda or Toyota.

    lw:
    Obama had a Chrysler 300 before getting chastised for it and switching to a Prius. I don’t think he’s lost it completely yet.

  • avatar
    lw

    @ Dr. Lemming

    We should be so lucky to have a 1930s style depression. Sorry but this is worse because we are going into this already in massive debt.

    Also I’m not anti-Democrat. I’m anti government making free market decisions.

    The reality is that the Corvette should live… GM should go Ch. 7 and someone should buy the Corvette brand and plant.

    If Corvette dies, it’s probably because the government got involved.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Yes, fleet sales. Either that or – and please try to stay with me here – by building good-quality cars that hit all the right buttons for average folks, armchair quarterback opinions be damned.

    My point here was that Hyundai’s increase in sales is likely due to increased fleet sales, picking up some of the rental market that the domestics have been giving up. Hyundai’s percentage of fleet sales was quite high in the recent past, with some models in the 50% range, and I suspect that this probably continues to be true.

    Hyundai is not a model to emulate in terms of branding or marketing. The company has been trying to build market share, but isn’t showing leadership in that regard. It remains to be seen whether their formula will prevail; maybe it will, maybe it won’t.

    I have never seen a study linking a halo car and a sales boost for its lesser-priced sibs.

    I don’t see how there could be, any more than we could absolutely prove that GM would be better off with N number of brands.

    But what we can do is look at successful auto companies, and see whether the evidence suggests that halo cars seemed to help them. Anecdotal evidence would support the belief that halo products do work, and that those companies that don’t need them are the exceptions to the rule. Again, VW and Nissan both come to mind here as two that benefited from having them, and I would also put Mercedes in that category.

    We also have to consider what would happen if the status quo was changed. At this point, we’re talking about eliminating the Vette in a lineup where it already exists, not in introducing one where there is none currently. That elimination would impact the existing brand, and that impact could be a negative. To cut it would send a message about what Chevrolet isn’t.

    I see the Vette as a lost opportunity. If GM is going to stick with the Chevrolet brand, then presumably it’s because there is something about the brand that can be used to sell vehicles. Without the Vette, Chevy becomes a maker of trucks and rental cars, which is the last message that it needs to send.

    The Vette needs a better interior, and to be surrounded by better products. It should be used to create the sort of allure that could help to sell more pedestrian cars. Having exist in a sort of bubble is the problem; the solution is to remove it from the bubble, not to eliminate the car.

  • avatar
    dgduris

    Wew,

    Kiwwing the Cowvette wowld certainwy wet Congwessman Fwank know that yow awe dowing evewy thing in youw powewr to sawve the majowity of union wowkews (Democwat woters) jowbs (and vowtes).

    That may hewlp you get anothew $15 biwwion in bwidge woans to nowewr.

    And it wowld bwing Amewica cwosew to the awesome Pewosi GT as the perfowmance weader!

    Translation: a brilliantly dramatic move – killing the Corvette – by a misbehaving dependent to secure a little more allowance.

  • avatar
    cwp

    The Corvette is a great car. And, unfortunately, that’s sort of the problem with Chevrolet in a nutshell.

    For decades now, Chevy has made one very good to great car (the Vette), and a lot of mediocre to awful cars (everything else). There’ve been occasional exceptions here and there, but for the most part, the brand has been a one-man band for as long as a lot of car buyers today can remember.

    Maybe the Vette really does pull buyers into dealerships who then go on to buy something else. I honestly don’t know. I hope not, because halo effect cars can only work if the rest of the line can live up to them. The Z is a fine sports car, but the Altima is also a great car in its own way. The RX-8 is all well and good, but it wouldn’t help if the 3 sucked. Gearheads everywhere love the M3, but the 325 shares a lot of its virtues (and its faults …).

    But the Corvette? You tell me: how is someone who goes in to look longingly at one and ends up in a Cobalt or Impala going to feel about the Chevrolet brand? Is that kid just out of college who gets suckered into an Aveo because he wants to own a Vette one day going to come back for seconds?

    Chevrolet doesn’t need one great car, they need a bunch of good cars. If killing the Vette could make them wake up and realize they can’t rest on its laurels any more, then start tying the noose.

  • avatar
    Eric Bryant

    Wow – Robert Farago must be running for an open Congressional seat, ’cause that’s about the only place on Earth where this logic makes sense.

    Corvette is cheap, and it provides GM with a low-volume “sandbox” in which to play with new technology. Changing the badge under which it’s sold (such as from Chevy to Caddy) does little to help anyone. Just leave Vette alone – it’s one of the few things that GM does right.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Killing the Corvette wouldn’t accomplish anything useful.

  • avatar
    ajla

    But the Corvette? You tell me: how is someone who goes in to look longingly at one and ends up in a Cobalt or Impala going to feel about the Chevrolet brand?

    I don’t know about the Cobalt, but an Impala SS buyer at least gets an LSx engine like the Corvette.

    The Corvette does have a halo effect. It just doesn’t extend to things like the Aveo or HHR. For example, how often do F-body, GTO, or SSR owners get asked if their car has “the Corvette motor” under the hood? How many ebay ads for a 1996 Impala SS remind buyers the LT1 is what the Corvette had? How many times have has an auto journalist called the G8 GXP “Corvette-powered”? I’ve even heard a Lucerne owner compare their magnetic ride shocks to the system on the Corvette. The Corvette’s existence does help GM sell other cars.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Sounds like someone can’t stand the fact that GM makes a truly great car (that is in fact profitable).

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    I think his point is that a company that keeps sacred cows can never really move forward.

  • avatar
    stuki

    You are off the mark on so many levels here…

    First, while not ‘halo’ per se, the existence of higher end same branded vehicles does confer status on lower end ones. C-class and engine less Euro market Bimmers as a case in point.

    Also, look at the NSX. Its mere existence gave a lot of credibility to Honda/Acura in 90’s tuner circles, selling Civics and Integras, popularizing v-tech etc… Heck, the NSX in many ways moved the entire Japanese auto industry upmarket, by the ‘damn, look how badly these guys can kick the Euro’s rear if they just make a bit of an effort…’ effect.

    In addition, the ‘Vette is very much a working class car. Totally different positioning than a similar priced Boxster. It’s priced where it is achievable for a working class, certainly a traditional manufacturing one at that, enthusiast to own one before dying. Just the right positioning required for a working class halo car. And it’s sold all over America, at regular dealers where the sales guys watch NASCAR; not just in Beverly Hills ‘enthusiast lifestyle outlets’, where the sales guy makes small talk by asking what kind of hair care products you use. And it uniquely appeals to the traditional working class virtue of getting value for the money, even when the money is a bit bigger. As in, Big expensive steak OK, similarly priced spoon of Caviar not so much. In addition, working class guys who prefer steak can still fit and get into one, even when they have worked long enough to be able to afford one.

    As for Cadillac, they have no business building a sports car. A powerful luxury coupe, yes, but not a hard riding sports car. Keep the ‘Vette engine, and perhaps even build it on a frame, but make it a lot softer and at least somewhat larger.

  • avatar
    King Bojack

    Stopping Vette production is um, not the best of ideas.

    Canning the Vette would essentially be a huge white flag for GM and if they stop the Vette they should just Ch 7 and sell all their shit to Chindia firms. From an accounting stand point the revenues Corvette brings in (even in depressed market) may be very vital to GM despite whether or not it improves sales or brings in buckets of cash.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    The Corvette is not a niche product. Close, but not quite. It’s sales in the US last year were greater than:

    All three Saab vehicles combined
    The Saturn Astra (partial year, but it also outsells it on a month to month basis)
    The Saturn Outlook
    The Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky combined
    The Pontiac G5
    The Pontiac G8 (partial year-it’s close on a month to month basis)
    The Cadillac STS
    The Cadillac Escalade
    The GMC Canyon
    The GMC Envoy
    The GMC Yukon XL
    The Chevy Traverse (partial year)
    Various industrial-type Chevys (all Chevy Kodiaks combined, Chevy Express Cutaway/G Cut and Chevy Express/G Sportvan combined, Chevy C/T and W Series combined), as well as their GMC equilvalents
    Any individual Hummer model, plus it came within less than a thousand units of outselling the entire brand (that is, leftover H1s, the H2, the H3, and the H3T combined)

    I also believe it is profitable, and GM can’t cut profitable vehicles right now.

    Now, if you used the Dodge Viper as an example, I’d agree. Or the now discontinued Ford GT. But as for the Corvette, I’d agree with other posters in that you are just trolling. :-P

  • avatar
    Detroit Todd

    Obama had a Chrysler 300 before getting chastised for it and switching to a Prius. I don’t think he’s lost it completely yet.

    Like so many other things in this article and resulting comments, this is totally and demonstrably false.

    Obama? In a Prius? That is delusional. BTW, what color is the sky in your world?

    Presidents — nor presidential aspirants — would be caught dead driving a foreign car. Obama got rid of the 300 and switched to a Ford Escape Hybrid.

    Sheesh!

    rpol35 :
    Sounds like someone can’t stand the fact that GM makes a truly great car (that is in fact profitable).

    Bingo! +1. I would only add that if RF wants to trade credibility for drama/page hits, well, its his site.

  • avatar

    GM’s V8 branding of the LS series engines is closely tied to the Corvette. As others have pointed out, the association with the Corvette gives the LS family credibility when used in other cars. GM does an interesting thing when they put an LS engine in another car besides the Corvette – they almost always make sure that the version in the Vette has a little more power like 410 vs 400 HP. That way the other model benefits from the association with the Corvette while the Vette’s status as GM’s uber performance car is maintained and the Vette brand isn’t cheapened.

    As RF mentioned, GM has considered axing the Corvette before. I worked for DuPont with people who spent a lot of time in Bowling Green. From what I heard, GM’s break even point on the Corvette is around 25,000 units, so in Jan. ’08, not a great month itself, the Vette was just about at break even point. At current sales levels there’s obviously a loss, but then that’s how most models are across the auto industry during the current deep recession.

    As for the halo effect. I know that ASC, which has helped build small run vehicles, had some market research that showed that the Chevy SSR helped sell 75,000 BOF pickups and SUVs a year. The SSR is regarded as a flop, selling about 20,000 units during its production run, but it was intended as a pure halo vehicle and styling exercise for Chevy’s current styling language, not volume sales. At maximum capacity, the Lansing Craft Center could have built 13,000 units a year. With the 4,500 stores Chevy had in 2002, that’s only three SSRs per dealer. So Chevy wasn’t planning the SSR to be much more than a showroom draw. According to ASC, the primary vendor on the SSR, the car helped sell a bunch of profitable vehicles. What does it mean when a consumer says that the SSR was a “factor” in their purchase of a Silverado or TrailBlazer? I have no idea, but GM makes a lot of money on 75,000 BOF trucks.

    Way back when it was a mistake to make the Corvette a Chevy. It was as expensive as a Cadillac in 1953 and was the first apple pulled from Alfred P. Sloan’s carefully stacked cart. Then the small block Chevy V8 made power available to the common man and it was the beginning of the end.

    Now, though, I think that the Corvette’s brand is too closely related with mom, apple pie and Chev’olets to make it a Caddy. The Vette is the working man’s supercar. Best bang for the buck is part of its persona. Some of the cost cutting on the Corvette’s interior may be deliberately part of the car’s image. Does the ZR1 have the interior of other $100,000 cars? Not really, but then how many other $100,000 cars have 600+ HP and can go 200 mph? The Vette could, however, work as a standalone brand. The Chevy dealers who move a lot of Corvettes often have dedicated Corvette facilities.

    RF is a student of branding. I don’t know how anyone could justify killing a brand as valuable as Corvette. Corvette drivers are among the most loyal and enthusiastic car owners around. If you think about what it would cost to develop a brand as valuable as Corvette, the last thing you would do is harm the brand by putting it on hiatus.

  • avatar
    Oregon Sage

    Farago makes a good point. Nobody can be all things to all people.

    The Corvette became decoupled from the rest of Chevrolet when the last RWD Impala was dropped. That car had overlapping engineering and image with the Corvette. The Camaro was the other car that did the same, however the Corvette/Camaro combo basically created a tacky and tackier pair when viewed together.

    Now, if they want to slide the Corvette drivetrain and chassis under a body that has some practical application and is in the pricing realm of Chevrolet then they might have a point. Think of the 300C as an example. Then the Camaro and this ‘new Impala’ would share some engineering and the Impala would be an effective halo to the Malibu, et al.

    Is the Corvette a Cadillac. I think not. They are the home of the overhead cam engine now (CTS-V not withstanding).

    We are talking here about the difference between the automobile business and being an enthusiast. As a former workout specialist for a commercial finance firm I can assure you that Farago is on track here. Failure to make tough decisions in the face of changing conditions is a common theme of businesses that tank. GM has failed to make those decisions and their very size makes it likely that they will not make those tough decisions.

    Sell the Corvette brand and factory while it still has value. Contract to supply the base engine to the new owner to amortize those costs from the pickup line and then move on.

  • avatar
    WEGIV

    @RF – I agree that the concept of halo car as draw for people in the market for more mundane stuff is probably not credible. What I don’t buy is the assertion of Corvette = halo car, especially when you try to mention the Ford GT as a comparison. ZR1, Z06 (at least the most recent iteration), yes. Regular old ‘Vette? Not so much. Not in terms of pricing, and not in terms of volume. There are a LOT more ‘Vettes on the road than there are Ford GTs or Lexus IS-Fs. Whether they are selling now and at what volume is not representative of their place in a more normal universe.
    Also, there’s no exotic, high $$ tech at work here, and very little engineering that doesn’t carry over/trickle down to other parts of GM’s business. The entire drivetrain, including brakes is reused other places, including in the Holden/Vauxhall performance cars internationally. This is even true for the ZR1′s engine. The interior is all pretty much parts-bin except the seats. So we’re left with a small amount of tooling associated with the body itself that is actually dedicated to the Corvette only.
    Yes it’s a dedicated engineering team, and yes it’s a dedicated factory, but the root problem there isn’t the ‘Vette itself, it’s that GM doesn’t have the ability to control its costs when it’s not selling cars by reducing production. That’s not unique to the Vette, and if GM doesn’t solve that with the UAW, it simply won’t matter, because the Vette, like everything else, will be up for the highest bidder.
    But, if that problem gets solved, I believe that it is quite possible for GM to have a low-volume car like the ‘Vette and make it profitable.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    Lets have a bowl of controversy, shall we? But lets make it REAL instead. Lets make it about a car people WON’T buy at a price that is as profitable to GM as a Corvette. Title it Death Watch 233 ” The Chevy Volt Must Die “.

    Oops, been done in one article or the other. In fact a week doesn’t go by here were the ingredients of such an article aren’t included. So? It just makes the article easier to write well, that’s all!

    Time for GM to stop playing games and make cars Pelosi doesn’t want. That’s the litmus test for determining cars that people WILL buy.

  • avatar
    thoots

    RF, you car hater.

    You must drive a Toyota.

  • avatar
    Luther

    GM as we know it will die in a sorta Chapter 7 and 11 hybrid…With more taxpayer tit sucking of course:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090214/ts_nm/us_gm_plan

  • avatar

    This “kill the Corvette” business is common among Boxster owners who have been whipped by a Corvette on a road course.

    There are two ways to fix this problem:

    1) 245f/285r Hoosiers and five years of professional driving instruction;

    2) See if you can get GM to cancel the model.

    I chose 1), RF, chose 2). :)

    Seriously, though: the Corvette should be the last model GM kills, not the first. There’s no reason not to keep cranking out the C6 in its current form. The tooling’s paid for, the car makes money, and it keeps Americans employed.

    There may not be the money to develop a C7 right now, but in a market where Chrysler may go under and take the Viper with them, Porsche is retreating upmarket at lightspeed, Nissan doesn’t sell a car that can both keep up with a Vette and avoid lunching its transmission, Honda and Toyota have decided to abandon the market once and for all, and BMW can’t make the requisite horsepower while appeasing the EU weenie police, the C6 Corvette is only likely to be in more demand in the future.

    @lw:

    “This is pretty simple… We are in a massive global depression… Needs replace wants.. Luxuries are neither affordable on a large scale nor is it appropriate to drive a new Corvette home past the Sheriff who is evicting your neighbors.”

    I think you may be kidding yourself here. Some people are going to continue to earn money no matter what happens, and in an era of $40,000 minivans a $45,000 Corvette is not particularly offensive. It’s always going to be possible to tell successful people from the unsuccessful, lazy, or both.

  • avatar
    Matt51

    Tooling is paid for, so keep the ‘vette. What the country really needs is a good $10,000 car, but killing the ‘vette won’t get GM there.

  • avatar
    powdermonkey

    Hey Guys (and Gals)

    What’s all the fuss?

    So RF had the temerity to think bold and make an interesting suggestion. Is anything in the editorial at odds with his previous editorial voice? Go back and read some more of his editorials. You will see there is nothing new here. The only thing that is different is that he has slaughtered the sacred cow.

    Sure Corvette is the only thing that GM seems to do right except trucks, but follow the logic. Moving it to Cadillac and shaving down to three other models is exactly what Robert has been calling for (and a heck of a lot of you all as well) for years.

    GM is broke and broken and both need to be fixed with bold moves (to borrow a phrase from Ford).

    Announcing the end of the Chevy Corvette at the upcoming hearings would be genius. At one stroke it shows how serious GM is about restructuring it’s business, and would drive people to snap up the remaining models on the dealers books, at sticker. At a profit for GM and the dealer. Imagine the sales pitch on the last year model of the Chevy Corvette, it sells itself.

    The announcement that when times are a little better it would be back as a Caddy brings a little hope for better times now and a surge of new buyers into the Cadillac dealerships when it comes out. Perhaps they will also take a look at the other offerings in the restructured GM dealership as well.

    Selling off the brand and factory is in my opinion short sighted. Sell off Saab, Hummer, even Buick and Pontiac, if you can find a buyer. But selling Corvette should be a last ditch effort.

    The only problem with this mental wanking is that there is no one at GM with the balls to do it. Just look at the reaction here. You would think that Robert had suggested powering the next gen Corvette with puppies and upholstering it with panda fur.

  • avatar
    lerxst

    Robert Farago is becoming the John C. Dvorak of the autoblogosphere!

  • avatar
    lw

    @ Powdermonkey

    Amen.. Killing the Corvette is EXACTLY the right message to send….

    Says to the US Government = “We are dead serious”

    Says to the US Consumer = “We all blew it.. you are maxed out and so are we. this is one way we all share the pain”

    Says to other automotive manufactures = “We still have balls. We actually beat you to the punch on something. Toyota, what models are you going to kill?”

  • avatar
    Jim_p

    Halo cars bring people into the showroom to see the halo car. While there they look at the other cars on the floor. That’s what a halo car does.

    It’s wrong to argue that someone goes to a showroom to buy a halo car and then buys something else. It doesn’t work that way. When someone goes Corvette shopping they buy one.

    The Chicago Autoshow has one reason why I will go to it – its got the Corvette Sideswipe concept car pictured at the beginning of this thread. I want to see that car close up. Even tho I know that I will never own one. While at the show I will look at a bunch of other cars, one of which I might end up owning. But the halo car is the reason I saw all those other cars.

    The Corvette brings people into the Chevrolet showroom and some of those people buy Chevrolets. GM knows this. The car isn’t going anywhere.

  • avatar
    John Williams

    “Yes, fleet sales. Either that or – and please try to stay with me here – by building good-quality cars that hit all the right buttons for average folks, armchair quarterback opinions be damned.”

    You have a checkbook. Open it up and lend GM the few hundred million it’ll need to pull that off.

    “Assuming Pontiac’s death, the Corvette only makes sense as a Caddy. Although, saying that, GM’s failure to fully develop or properly market the XLR is very worrying indeed.”

    The XLR tried to do what the Allante tried: Competiting with the Mercedes SL-class. The Allante failed, and so did the XLR. Rebadging the Corvette as a Caddy will provoke the mother of all backlashes — one strong enough to not only kill off the Vette (for that moment), but also pretty much condemn GM to waiting in the Studebaker lounge.

    And I mention “Studebaker lounge”, because at some point, some nostalgic chap is gonna pick up the rights and tooling to the Vette and sell it as a standalone model….from Corvettes Unlimited or whatever the company will be called.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    As much as I want to disagree, I think Robert’s right, and a lot of people posting here are letting emotion get the better of their judgment. To whit:

    It gets people into dealerships, where they buy the Malibus and Impalas you mention.

    No, it doesn’t. It never really did, or if so it was so long ago and in such small numbers that it was insignificant. No one, realistically, goes into a Chevy dealership to see a Corvette and comes out with an Impala. There may be people who go in and see a Corvette on their way to buying a Cobalt, but these are die-hard Chevy fans anyway. And GM is not making money off these people.

    I think you are vastly underestimating the anger this would cause among GM loyalists. These loyalists are GM’s last customer base, and killing off the Corvette would cause many of them to leave GM for good

    Toyota sells four hundred thousand Camrys to people who don’t know the words “Supra”, “MR2″ or “2000GT”. GM is not making money of these “loyal” customers now, outside of truck buyers.

    The money that went into the Corvette would be better spent designing, building or floating the costs of a superlative Cobalt or Malibu in order to to build a base of repeat, mainstream buyers.

    Jim_p :

    You post is a good one, but you’re missing one point: you’re one buyer, and the influence you’re generating, while helpful, does not inspire people to buy mainstream Chevrolets.

    I know a few Corvette owners, all of which love their Vettes, but have the following daily drivers: Lexus ES350, Lexus RX350, Acura TL, BMW 750i. Obviously, the halo effect isn’t working on them.

    Also, “halo effects” are mostly B.S., but the Vette is one case where there really is a valid halo effect. Everything from the common refrain ” GM makes good cars, look at the Malibu, CTS, Corvette,” to the taillights on the Cobalt coupe is a good reason why the ‘Vette should stay around

    People have been saying “Well, let’s see Toyota make the Corvette” for decades whenever GM product was criticized, and it means nothing. GM has bled marketshare and brand equity, and the Corvette hasn’t helped.

    The Corvette, if anything, shows how pathetic GM really has been. It’s the one car they have done well, and it’s done well because they haven’t cut corners or phoned in the effort. Personally, if I were sitting in a a Lumina, Cavalier or Uplander, I’d be asking “Why can’t GM put 10% of the effort it puts into the Corvette into this car.

    I vote for a 5 year coma… Death is so final….

    That’s not a bad idea. Not only can you save on R&D, you boost the value of existing car and create artificial demand for when you can sell the car.

    Do we know if Obama is a Mustang man?
    Could get interesting if he’s a Hemi guy…

    He did own a 300C before he “found religion”

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Well, as I read RF’s editorial, I found myself agreeing with him in principle.

    I think you folks accusing him of “losing the plot” are way off base. What the hell does that term really mean anyway? “You’ve lost the plot!” I’ve never heard that term used in any conversation not having to do with a book, movie, or television show, so it sounds really insulting the way it’s being used in this article thread.

    Anyway, to my main point: I’m a former Corvette owner, and I’ll tell ya’ll that while it was a fast good looking head-turner of a ride, it was not really a “great” car. Too many problems, too many towing hook-ups. And “Mr. Goodwrench” most certainly wrenched one over on me more than once.

    And throughout this huge long thread of postings, I did not see a single link to anything proving that Corvette was profitable. Maybe I missed that; if so, will somebody please repost it?

    I hope in my heart that Corvette finds another home. But until profitability is proven, I think General Motors has no business building such a vehicle if they have to rely on taxpayer money to stay alive.

    It’s very possible that GM will file on Tuesday.

    It was the bad experience with my Corvette and Chevrolet service that finally…yes, FINALLY made me swear off GM. For the rest of my life. But it never occurred to me that it might instead be “for the rest of GM’s life.”

    If Corvette survives, maybe as part of another manufacturer, I might again consider owning one someday. That excites me. But not if it’s a GM product and not if it’s a Chevrolet. No way, no how. Those people scare me…

    Anyhow, this question may be a moot point! Folks, the Congress can already force businesses at the federal teat to stop buying corporate jets. They can force businesses to cap certain salaries.

    Therefore it’s not really a stretch to think that maybe they can start telling them what products to make and which ones to kill. Or which divisions to scuttle, or which employees to lay off.

    This is what our November election choices has wrought. This is what we as a nation want. Surprise!

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    Man, what a depressing world we would live in if all the car makers followed Mr. Farago’s advice and ditched their desirable, but not quite bankable products…

    GM without the ‘Vette.

    Ford without the GT (already gone)

    Chrysler without the Viper (going… going…)

    Honda without the S2000 (exiting stage left…)

    Toyota without the Supra (long gone)

    Nissan without the 370Z (after finally getting the styling right again!)

    Mazda without the Miata (NOOOOOO!!!)

    Subaru without the WRX (GASP!)

    VW without the GTI (Fahrvegettaboutit!)

    BMW without the Z4 (see Nissan 370Z)

    Mercedes without the SLK (What would all the trophy wives drive?)

    NOT A WORLD I WANT TO LIVE IN!

  • avatar
    Bridge2far

    “No one, realistically, goes into a Chevy dealership to see a Corvette and comes out with an Impala.”
    I don’t think you get the concept of a halo car. It is a familiar icon that everyone can identify with. Customers flock to it and along the way cannot help but peruse the entire Chevrolet product line. Corvette is an attraction

    “Toyota sells four hundred thousand Camrys to people who don’t know the words “Supra”, “MR2″ or “2000GT”.”
    And I would estimate that the vast majority of consumers have no idea what they are/were either.

    “Personally, if I were sitting in a a Lumina, Cavalier or Uplander, I’d be asking “Why can’t GM put 10% of the effort it puts into the Corvette into this car.”

    If you were sitting in at least two of the above you would be sitting in a pretty old car what with Lumina discontinued 8 years ago and Cavalier gone since 2004. Not exactly relevant.

  • avatar
    Antohn Crispin

    I don’t have the specific press release links but to my knowledge:

    - Honda has killed the NSX project and has killed the S2000.
    - Toyota has killed the LF-A and co-op Subaru coupe projects.
    - Nissan has killed the compact (240) coupe and Infiniti GTR project.

    I’m sure there are other examples niche or halo cars being axed. And, I would argue that Nissan’s GTR was released just before the worldwide credit market crisis or probably would’ve been cut as well. Again, we are talking about halo cars not core brand products. I would agree with Mr. Farago’s point if I were able to believe that GM could be capable of marshaling ex-Corvette resources into producing a compact market offering that looked as good as the Mitsubishi Lancer, drove like a BMW 1 series, and had the reliability of a Honda Civic or, you know, just anything, really, generally competitive with the rest of the market’s offerings. But I can’t. And anyway, how much money is GM spending on building and designing the Corvette?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Is anything in the editorial at odds with his previous editorial voice?

    In my opinion, killing the Vette would be a substantial branding error. I agree with Mr. Farago that branding is important and that GM’s brands are woefully underpowered, but I disagree that killing the Vette creates focus where it needs to be.

    Again, the problem with GM’s lineup is not with having the Vette, but with failing to use it effectively within the context of the brand. It could be helpful, but the other cars in the stable are not designed to benefit from its presence.

    I raised this complaint on the good-riddance-to-Lutz threads, and I will raise it again — GM product development appears to exist in a vacuum, in which no attention is paid as to how to create a family of products that work well together in supporting a brand message. Instead, the products exist in a universe of one-off’s, which do nothing for each other at best and create confusion and a lack of interest at worst. That speaks poorly of GM’s product development mindset and casts a light on its failure to build and manage brands effectively.

    Toyota and Honda can get away with not having halo cars, but they are exceptions to the rule. Everyone else, including GM, could benefit from having them. Some do benefit, but GM does not, if only because they don’t take that ball and run with it.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    The Corvette is good value and fast.
    Gm should continue to make it.
    You don´t see many of them here in Europe, but in Usa they surely must be the best selling sports car?

  • avatar
    ajla

    Toyota sells four hundred thousand Camrys to people who don’t know the words “Supra”, “MR2″ or “2000GT”. GM is not making money of these “loyal” customers now, outside of truck buyers.

    First, the Toyota sports cars never had as big a following as the Corvette currently enjoys. Second, many of those 400,000 Camry buyers are people that left domestic brands because their Taurus or Grand Am exploded and the dealers told them to go to hell. Toyota was also able to gain new buyers with the Prius. Old MR2 and Supra owners probably all moved on to Subaru or Nissan.

    The money that went into the Corvette would be better spent designing, building or floating the costs of a superlative Cobalt or Malibu in order to to build a base of repeat, mainstream buyers.

    This sounds good in theory, but it will never work. Like I said in my earlier post, GM is finished as a major automaker. They need to just contract down and serve their loyalists at this point. Or go away forever, whatever works. I don’t think GM can do anything to build a new repeat fanbase, short of re-inventing the automobile.

    Just pulling numbers out of thin air, let’s say GM manages to sell the Corvette brand for $1 billion. Then GM puts all that money into making the Cruze and Volt world-class cars. When released in mid-2010 the Cruze is better than any small car on the market, and the Volt is able to go 40 miles on no gas, costs $36K, and GM actually breaks even on every one they sell.

    I still say it won’t save GM-even if the new cars are perfect. You’d hear stuff like “I’ll buy one in 4 years when they cost 70% less”, “I left GM forever after my Quad-4 blew up in 40,000 miles”, or “I still would have to deal with my snake Chevy dealer- so no sale for me.”

    The damage is already done, and it is terminal. Non-loyalists are virtually unwilling to even look at GM vehicles anymore. The “A Tale of Two Chevys” editorial from earlier this week is a good example of how the new GM products aren’t gaining any converts, while traditional GM fans prefer the older stuff.

    My argument is that killing the Corvette would cause a big-time loss of GM lifers, which is all GM is going to have buying its stuff for a long time. It just isn’t worth it.

    (Plus, the Camaro would also need to be cancelled to keep the new “mainstream brand” message consistent. I believe GM has already spent substantial money on that car.)

  • avatar
    BuckD

    With all due respect, what sense does it make to kill the one car that GM gets consistently right and is so beloved? It makes GM sense, which is, as you’ve pointed out over 232 GM death watch posts, no sense at all. You description of the killing of the corvette sounds like a PR stunt, one which would fail miserably. Whatever lingering doubt that GM wasn’t fatally flawed and should be allowed to die would be vanquished in the minds of the public.

  • avatar
    ionosphere

    The Corvette should never have been a Chevrolet. Should have been a Pontiac.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    While I don’t work in the marketing area, as an employee of a company that actually has tried to do “halo car” research for clients, I can tell you the effect is nothing. Zero.

    The best we found we could say is that it had an effect on how customers, new to the brand, felt about the automotive “passion” of the brand. However, in order of preference, the “passion” of the brand tends to not be very high up on the priority list for the greater majority of new buyers. So even that “effect” is pushing it.

    Think about the GT-R, does it make you feel differently about the Nissan brand?? Nissan themselves were preparing to sell GT-R as it’s own brand, not Nissan. (Not sure how that’s working out in this climate).

    Repeat buyers are a different story. If they’ve had a positive experience with their first product, they’re more likely to learn more about a brand’s history and it’s other products.

    As an example, it’s the goal of BMW to have one family member in their first 3-series, only to buy a 5-series later, or X5 or M5 to add to the fleet or replace. They’ll shower you will direct marketing about other models and M cars month after month.

    Once you’re “into” the brand, you’re told that BMW/M engineering is the greatest. It’s about the best effect you can hope for “halo” wise. But most often, if you’re a BMW owner you’ve already made that connection anyway. “M” just becomes re-enforcement of your own brand view as an owner.

    Corvette is (the only?) product with happy GM history, but Corvette is a brand itself that could be used in other ways, not just as a car. Leaving it with Chevy is a mistake, but that is muddle-headed GM.

    Whether the line itself is profitable, or right for the times for GM is another problem which I don’t think RF really tried to address here. (Or didn’t succeed in addressing judging by the comments).

    Throwing away “Corvette”, the brand, would be a mistake. (I have no view on the car – it’s not my cup of tea).

  • avatar
    bmilner

    I haven’t made it all the way through the comments here but let me add to the fray by saying:

    I don’t agree… because:
    1. It’s a profitable Halo car that people actually buy. (as opposed to an imaginary Halo car only 23 enthusiasts know exist)
    2. American cars, while getting better, have a massive branding and image problem. You don’t solve that by a) killing a iconic brand and b) swapping brands around on a technicality (the thought that because it’s High end, it should be a caddie)
    3. You need some element of cool, even to sell something cheap.

  • avatar
    Hank

    The Corvette, like Cadillac, is the in-the-market test bed for new tech, and allows Chevrolet to roll out expensive new technology, make back R&D, then let it trickle down into the cheaper models. Go away it should not.

  • avatar
    esg

    Kill it!! The Corvette would be one less vehicle that reminds me of a mullett haircut (and also gold plated neck chains/pinky rings). Trans-Am, Camaro and now the Vette! Good riddance. Let it die quickly. Now, back to the new Dodge Challenger…where’s my hammer?

    PS- I’m from redneck land (NC), so don’t be offended.

  • avatar

    Catching up on the comments…

    1. The Corvette is a model. Not a brand. (Except in Europe.) Clearly, many of you agree that the Corvette does not fit well into the Chevrolet brand. Anything that doesn’t help a brand hurts it, no matter how good it is.

    The VW Phaeton is/was an astonishing car. Remarkable. But it hurt the VW brand by stretching it in ways it should NEVER have been stretched. The tighter a brand’s remit, the more powerful it is. Why screw it up?

    2. I’m serious about this. Those of you who’ve been on this site on a regular basis know I’m no troll. I say what I believe. Period. Anyone who thinks I’m just writing something controversial just to increase our numbers is seriously misguided. I’m disappointed that you would begrudge TTAC visitors for doing what we’ve been doing since day one: telling the truth about cars.

    3. Would GM lose its “core” audience if it axed the ‘Vette? Who cares? They can’t survive on this swindling pool of loyalists. Ipso facto. They need to steal back transplant defectors. The Corvette is never going to do this. It’s a niche product.

    4. Is the ‘Vette profitable? Does GM even break out profitability by model? I wouldn’t surprised if the answer was no, no.

    5. As Pete Moran pointed out, there is no credible scientific evidence that a halo car does anything for any of the other products within a brand. In fact, it’s entirely possible that it hurts the rest of the brand by alienating pre-existing loyalists. If you own a Nissan Z and along comes the GT-R, you’ve just been demoted from the top of the tree. Maybach – Mercedes AMG. Hard to believe, but the Corvette has shot ITSELF in the foot this way. ZO6 to base ‘Vette.

    6. It’s hard for enthusiasts to stomach the idea of unique products going away. I would remind them that energy is never lost– it just changes form. If the majors dump halos, it helps genuine niche brands succeed. Ferrari, Maserati, Bentley, Bugatti and Porsche are all doing well enough. There are dozens of aspiring supercar makers (Pagani) and speciality sports car providers (Lotus). The Corvette could continue outside of GM. Or be replaced with something even better.

    7. In many way, the Cadillac XLR is a more interesting case study. This model should have kicked the Mercedes SL’s ass. (I wanted it to.) But GM just couldn’t finish the job. Why not? Because of its ADD. Which is personified by the Corvette.

    8. I like the ‘Vette. Gave it a great review. And why not? It’s a great car. The Porsche Boxster S (one of which I own, at least for a few more days) is not better. It’s different.

  • avatar
    dougfixit

    While we are at it, lets have Sears get rid of Crafstman Tools (what are you smoking RF; especially since you stated that you would buy a VW Phaeton?)

    The last thing America needs is to cut off the cojones of its auto industry. It needs all the balls it can get. PC is what got us into this mess to begin with.

    GM already had a Cadillac Corvette – the XLR, which it just shit canned.

    This reminds me of Captain Picard in the movie Star Trek – First Contact, when he was going on about “falling back” when it came to dealing with the Borg.

    “…and I will make them pay. THE LINE MUST BE DRAWN HERE!!!”

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Wow. I don’t know if RF is serious or just watching the hit counter spin crazily. (Or is it both?)

    Since none of us have any real hard numbers, other than monthly sales totals, one opinion on profitability is as good as another. I say ‘Vette is highly profitable, even at low volumes. It’s not like they spent a fortune redesigning the sheetmetal (uh, sorry, fiberglass) for this year. It’s not like the mechanicals are all new. It sells, at it’s lowest price, for about 2.5 times what a Malibu goes for. GM has to be making money on these.

    One way to look at this is that holydonut’s comment was absolutley correct – Corvette is one of the few programs GM does right. Maybe GM should pare down to just Corvette and rebuild from there – The ‘Vette team is only team that has proven they know what they are doing.

    Another way to look at this is that Corvette hasn’t had anything but an historical relationship to Chevy for a long long time. Corvette is a brand unto itself. It really doesn’t belong with Chevrolet. But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Figure out which sales channel should get the Corvette brand, and then continue selling it.

    It doesn’t belong at Caddy. Taking a car that doesn’t belong at one brand and putting it where it also doesn’t belong, makes no sense.

    As an aside, assigning anything else to Caddy only worsens an already bad situation at Caddy. Caddy is the most damaged brand at GM because it has no definite image or meaning at all. It’s cars for old people, cars for gangsters, cars for the hood, exotic sports cars, pickup trucks…….. Caddy is already a senseless mishmash and does not need the Corvette just to further confuse things.

  • avatar

    Robert,

    The Phaeton was a new model, the Corvette’s been a Chevy for more than half a century. It may have been a mistake to make the Vette a Chevrolet in ’53 but now I think it’d be a mistake to take it away from Chevy.

    Also, with coupe, convertible, Z06 and ZR1 models, I think you can say that Corvette is a brand.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Would GM lose its “core” audience if it axed the ‘Vette? Who cares? They can’t survive on this swindling pool of loyalists. Ipso facto. They need to steal back transplant defectors. The Corvette is never going to do this. It’s a niche product.

    I don’t think GM makes anything or ever will make anything to get back the people it has lost. And, you still haven’t said where the Corvette’s death would leave the Camaro.

    _
    One more comment on this editorial for today from me:

    This “Kill the Corvette” idea goes heavily against your excellent July 3, 2007 TTAC editorial titled “Death with Dignity: Detroit’s Sudden Impact” . In it you basically say what I’ve been writing for these comments: GM is finished at this point no matter what they build, so why not “die with your boots on” and go out with the most memorable, raw, non-Toyota, American stuff you can make?

    What has changed your mind since you wrote that? Do you think GM now has a shot at survival?

    Is it because GM got a bailout? If that’s the case I feel like your ire should be directed less at the Corvette and more at the government that wrote the check knowing GM’s current management, financial situation, and product line.

  • avatar

    aija:

    Non-Toyota, yes! But the brand isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.

    Anyway, that article said it’s too late for Detroit. It was and is. Only more so. At this point, the domestics have to reposition themselves for life after C11.

    Start with the brand. How CAN Corvette be a Chevrolet? I still don’t get it.

  • avatar
    galaxygreymx5

    I really enjoy TTAC, but I can’t sign off on this “kill the Corvette” business.

    The Vette has major value for GM in that everyone knows it’s a Chevy. Everyone knows Chevrolet is GM. Everyone has a happy story about their first ride in a Corvette, or one they saw in a car show, or a parade, or taking one to their high school prom. Or driving home from their wedding in one.

    The Corvette is embedded in the collective American consciousness and you simply can’t buy that kind of brand equity. I’ve just never heard of anyone hating a Corvette in casual conversation, quite the opposite from most of GM’s other products.

    This car is the only GM product for most people that’s aspirational, admired, adored, coveted and collected. It’s the only GM product that can show up at a valet desk where the attendant doesn’t think you just picked up whatever Enterprise had left over at the airport.

    Killing the Corvette would effectively kill the only positive GM association most people in this country have. It would kill GM (well, they’re dead, but you know what I mean). It’d be like Apple killing off the iPod. For most people, that would also mean the Mac would be gone from their shopping list, regardless of how healthy that brand was.

    On that little tangent, it is widely believed that the iPod saved Apple. It was a little gizmo way outside of Apple’s traditional brand and really had nothing at all to do with their basic focus: personal computers. It was, however, expensive, beautiful, coveted, and admired. People coddled iPods at first like little children and everyone wanted to play with them. And the little coveted halo product from Apple got people into their retail stores where they rediscovered the Mac and brought it back from the brink of death.

    The difference between Apple and GM is that consumers have responded very favorably to Apple’s newer computers and have doubled the company’s market share. The fact that most of Chevrolet’s portfolio is garbage isn’t the Corvette’s fault. If GM survives and stocks the Chevy showrooms with excellent products (fat chance, I know…) the Vette could certainly provide a very useful halo.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Awful lot of people thinking with their penises here. The Corvette may be your dream car, but it is not most people’s dream car. It sells pathetic numbers, the top end models are made of increasingly expensive aluminum, gas prices are on he way back up again, GM share prices are on the way down. Funny how no one made the same silly arguments about the Viper being Chryslers “halo car” and being the car that got people in the door to buy Caravans. I guess Chrysler fans are a little smarter than Chevy fans.

    To use this same logic, the GTR is saving Nissan? Toyota should have some sort of 600hp TT Supra revival to move Camrys? Not likely.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    I have never seen a study linking a halo car and a sales boost for its lesser-priced sibs.

    The only one I can think of is for a manufacture starting with M circa the late forties early 50s introducing a formula one program and a SLR model. And they had a lot more issues than just cash flow.

    To save it they should sell it worldwide. Its in competition with Ferrari, Porsche, Aston, Lambo etc- you know the massively overpowered 2 doored sports car market (would one advise Audi to shut shop with Lamborghini?) The drive train and chassis are fine, just steadily eliminate its flaws, (the average interior, the main one)

    Rob I still disagree the brand is the only important thing, i would suggest that product is just as important as thats the thing that got GM in to problems before the Meltdown.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Okay, I lied about that being my last comment.

    Start with the brand. How CAN Corvette be a Chevrolet? I still don’t get it.

    The Corvette is a front engine, RWD sports car, powered by a pushrod V8, has a great performance/dollar ratio, an old-tech leaf spring suspension, cheap interior, heavy shift action, and noisy T-top. In a post C11 world where GM only has two brands (Chevy and Cadillac), I think a car like this fits better with Chevrolet than a luxury brand. Of course, GM could class up a new “Cadillac Corvette”, but then it would lose the attractive price and run the risk of the Corvette going from pseudo-muscle/sports car into a GT.

    Honestly, I would personally rather see the Corvette moved slighty downmarket than up into Cadillac territory. A 1999 Corvette FRC only cost $38K. Why not advocate the return of something like that?

    Getting rid of the $100K ZR1 nonsense and going back to C5-style prices would help its spot in the new Chevy lineup as then it would cost about the same as a Silverado LTZ.

  • avatar
    esldude

    1. The Corvette is a model. Not a brand. (Except in Europe.) Clearly, many of you agree that the Corvette does not fit well into the Chevrolet brand. Anything that doesn’t help a brand hurts it, no matter how good it is.

    If it doesn’t help it hurts…. well rather absolutist without any backing of the idea. A car can help plenty, help little, not help or be detrimental. It isn’t a case of it must be one or the other. If GM makes even a little profit, and no one has shown that it doesn’t, it helps at least a little.

    2. I’m serious about this. Those of you who’ve been on this site on a regular basis know I’m no troll. I say what I believe. Period. Anyone who thinks I’m just writing something controversial just to increase our numbers is seriously misguided. I’m disappointed that you would begrudge TTAC visitors for doing what we’ve been doing since day one: telling the truth about cars.

    Well there is truth, and opinion. It may be your true opinion. Far from clear it is the truth.

    3. Would GM lose its “core” audience if it axed the ‘Vette? Who cares? They can’t survive on this swindling pool of loyalists. Ipso facto. They need to steal back transplant defectors. The Corvette is never going to do this. It’s a niche product.

    Nor is there any reason to think keeping the Vette will prevent reacquiring defectors. Nothing inherently wrong with niche products even by mainstream brands. At one time, little Toyota’s, FWD Accords and the rear engine Beetle were niche products.

    4. Is the ‘Vette profitable? Does GM even break out profitability by model? I wouldn’t surprised if the answer was no, no.

    There was info by Mr. Duntov that GM lost money or barely broke even until the late 60′s. It made money after that for a number of years which was the reason it wasn’t killed off in the long dry spell of the 70′s. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did make a small profit.

    5. As Pete Moran pointed out, there is no credible scientific evidence that a halo car does anything for any of the other products within a brand. In fact, it’s entirely possible that it hurts the rest of the brand by alienating pre-existing loyalists. If you own a Nissan Z and along comes the GT-R, you’ve just been demoted from the top of the tree. Maybach – Mercedes AMG. Hard to believe, but the Corvette has shot ITSELF in the foot this way. ZO6 to base ‘Vette.

    So what, by this thinking they should only make one version of everything? No premium models. Honda did that for a time, and it worked. They have done it the other way and it worked too. Comparing a Z06 devaluing a base Vette is one thing. Saying it bothers a Silverado, Malibu or Impala buyer is quite the leap however. Speaking of having no credible proof certainly fits this questionable assertion.

    6. It’s hard for enthusiasts to stomach the idea of unique products going away. I would remind them that energy is never lost– it just changes form. If the majors dump halos, it helps genuine niche brands succeed. Ferrari, Maserati, Bentley, Bugatti and Porsche are all doing well enough. There are dozens of aspiring supercar makers (Pagani) and speciality sports car providers (Lotus). The Corvette could continue outside of GM. Or be replaced with something even better.

    The Corvette makret isn’t the same as any of the other makes youname here. Energy is never lost, true. Has nothing to do with killing the Vette. Anyone with something better can than a Vette, fit to replace it, can build it and steal sales from a competitor anytime. Competition sometimes makes for a better product. Reducing the number of competitors doesn’t necessarily do this. Gibberish thinking here.

    7. In many way, the Cadillac XLR is a more interesting case study. This model should have kicked the Mercedes SL’s ass. (I wanted it to.) But GM just couldn’t finish the job. Why not? Because of its ADD. Which is personified by the Corvette.

    Strange idea here. The Corvette has been a rather affordable performance car with RWD, swoopy styling, strong V8 engines, with that engine in the front since the mid-50′s. Some ADD there huh?

    8. I like the ‘Vette. Gave it a great review. And why not? It’s a great car. The Porsche Boxster S (one of which I own, at least for a few more days) is not better. It’s different.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    psarhjinian: “There may be people who go in and see a Corvette on their way to buying a Cobalt, but these are die-hard Chevy fans anyway”

    What do you think made them Chevy fans in the first place? I bet a good amount of “die-hard” Chevy fans are Chevy fans because of the Corvette

  • avatar
    Bridge2far

    “If we must sacrifice the Chevrolet Corvette to satisfy our obligations, we will do it.”

    With all due respect, what absolute utter nonsense. The Chevrolet line is deep, to say the least. From the entry level Aveo and Cobalt to the rising mid size Malibu and up to the Impala. And trucks? Yeah, Chevy has trucks. Probably the best in the business. Silverado, Tahoe, Suburban etc. And at the end of the rainbow? The quintisential American icon, the Vette. You see, it does make sense.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    If you want to become slimmer ,trim fat. Does Corvette represent fat? Downsizing model range has never helped. American car industry already has poor diversity of model range. While japanese can build Accord wagons and Mazda6 wagons, Us brands seem blind to exterior diversity. If a japanese company discontinues a model, it is replaced by at least one. This is how you increase sales, by adding new models, and expanding the company. When you apply cheap tricks like rebadging imports or regrilling your own shit, customers veer away. US car problem is not in some unprofittable models, which need to be cut, the problem is lack of honest philosophy.
    For example Toyota understands how important quality and expertize is. So they invest huge money in continuous quality imporvement and engineering. They would rather die than allow somebody engineer engines or floorpans for them. They build them themselves. And you know what , they become experts in it.Because they intervine quality with expertize in mechanism building.
    What expert is Gm just managing german opel and connecting long distance calls for organizing german engineers with korean engineers later to be pronounced almighty Gm nuptials ? Gm is discontinuing models not because they are irrational or cannibalizing, it is because they are incompetetive to imports. And less you build yourselves, less experts you become. And even corvette has the same cancer cells in her body as the whole US manufacturing industry.- Lack of sophistication and quality is attempted to be justified by brute power and posh design. It works, at least for salivating pubescent boys.
    Ironically, by sacking engineers, who have good salaries, you decrease chances of selling the same 50K Corvette, because dealer clerks don`t make enough money to buy corvette. Ditto the majority of salespeople in the Walmart nation.
    P.S.- by the way Robert, what became to my Ford Scorpio nex gen design I sent you a week ago?

  • avatar
    CommanderFish

    Richard Chen:

    On the Durango, wait until New York Auto Show.

  • avatar
    vassilis

    I think halo cars helping mainstream carmakers is an automotive myth. It is like a religious belief for most of us that we never dare to question.
    I do not see how it helps them.
    Mr. Farago is right – we just assume that a supercar helps sales.

    The only effect I can think of is teenagers using themes with halo cars for their mobile phones.
    Or, tuners selling “M” and AMG wheels to owners of Mercedes and 3-series.

    VW lost millions developing the Veyron.
    They only get away because they can afford such projects.

    I remember when the VW Phaeton was launched, many journalists wrote things like: “amazing car but, with the wrong badge etc”. Only a handful (in Europe) had the nerve to write that along with being pointless, it would really hurt the brand.

    Which it did. The investment (have you seen the factory?) is enormous and they still lose money.
    You can drive in Europe for months and never see one. Unless you are close to the German Parliament.

  • avatar
    John Williams

    I would agree with Mr. Farago’s point if I were able to believe that GM could be capable of marshaling ex-Corvette resources into producing a compact market offering that looked as good as the Mitsubishi Lancer, drove like a BMW 1 series, and had the reliability of a Honda Civic or, you know, just anything, really, generally competitive with the rest of the market’s offerings. But I can’t.

    But they won’t. Instead, it will go towards executive bonuses and pay raises.

  • avatar
    Martin B

    @ Farago:

    They can’t survive on this swindling pool of loyalists.

    Who can?

  • avatar
    shaker

    The Corvette’s viability was predicated by many who overextended their credit, possibly borrowing against their overvalued home to do so. That ‘market’ is rapidly dwindling.
    Even I (cheapskate) considered a ‘Vette in 1997, but I settled on a V6 Camaro, as I was not a homeowner (with perceived “growth” potential); investing 40k+ on a depreciating asset was not something I would do sanely.

    So, is the ‘death’ of the ‘Vette an inevitability? Would GM offer up their Sacred Cow on the altar of Congress to avoid bankruptcy? Robert actually asks a fair question.

    If GM had actually given some thought to their “halo” vehicle, they would have had the contingency to bring the Corvette “down market” in – well, a down market!

    Instead, they pissed the money away on developing the Camaro – the ultimate “poor-man’s Corvette”.

    Instead of the Camaro, if there were a Corvette with a 300HP, direct-injected V6 for 35,000 – I wonder how that would work.

    Not only would it handle better, the whole car could be lighter, as the stronger springs/suspension/driveline components could be downsized, and the gas mileage would improve even further (32MPG ‘Vette, anyone?). And it would still be a kick-ass car, by any measure, though not a ‘Porsche Beater”.

    But now we have the Camaro SS, which (for a while) will corrode Corvette sales in this down-market, possibly enough to kill it.

    So, Robert’s essentially correct, GM has already wounded the Corvette by resurrecting the Camaro- what’s to keep them from putting it out of their misery?

  • avatar
    Pontiac-Custom-S

    I want some of what Robert Farago is smoking …

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    I think I see the flaw in the argument here. Branding ISN’T the only thing. It is a thing. It may be the most important thing. But it’s not the ONLY thing.

    ou say that if Corvette goes away, it may be replaced by something better. I contend that the Corvette cannot be replaced.

    No other company on earth, save Ford and Toyota, has the engineering capability and manufacturing technologies in place to execute a car with the performance/price relationship that Corvette has. Few of those were developed specifically FOR Corvette. They are all capabilities developed over time to support all the vehicles in the fleet. The niche players can produce a car with Corvette-level performance and quality, just not at a Corvette price. And they shouldn’t.

    And, to the profitability point, the C6 was an enhancement of C5, basically the car on the road today has been in production since 1997, hard to imagine it isn’t generating positive revenue.

  • avatar

    an old-tech leaf spring suspension

    This is disingenuous. Yes, the Corvette uses transverse leaf springs, but it’s not like it has a live axle and semi elliptical steel leaf springs. The springs used on Corvettes are hardly “old-tech”. They are made from a fairly sophisticated composite.
    Whether you use coil springs, torsion bars or a leaf spring, it’s still just a spring. The Vette uses dual control arms in front and a multi-link IRS in the back. The composite spring saves space.

    You might as well whine about Vettes being made out of balsa wood.

  • avatar
    Gixser995

    Wow, Complaining about the Vette? Pitiful. That car is an American Icon. Is that why you have a problem with it? Is it too “American”? This car is something GM shouldn’t get rid of. And besides, The Corvette is a bargain you can’t get anywhere else. If you take one for a spin, you would probably have a change of heart about America’s Icon.

  • avatar
    TZ

    Robert Farago :
    February 14th, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    Catching up on the comments…

    7. In many way, the Cadillac XLR is a more interesting case study. This model should have kicked the Mercedes SL’s ass. (I wanted it to.) But GM just couldn’t finish the job. Why not? Because of its ADD. Which is personified by the Corvette.

    So, you’re for keeping an overpriced $100k Cadillac version of the Corvette, but against keeping the $50k-base-price Corvette?

    Curious logic, that.

  • avatar
    NickR

    I disagree but I’d have to sit and think if it’s a visceral reaction or a logical one.

    However, I do think that the ZR1 was/is a waste of time. The Z06 was more than adequate as an uber-Corvette.

    While we are on the subject of axing…ditch the frickin Camaro FIRST!

  • avatar
    TheRealAutoGuy

    Robert,

    First of all, thank you for the thoughtful responses.

    You would probably be a good candidate to do an “insider book” like “All Corvettes are Red” or the other book about the Taurus development story. (Car: A Drama of the American Workplace by Mary Walton)

    Working inside the industry for a while would show you that, yes, things are quite a bit different to how they appear to the general public.

    You watch the industry from far, far, away, through the lens of media and insider sources.

    While you see the pieces of the mosaic, how they are arranged and interact is really the key.

    Porsches and Corvettes: I’m one [of the few] who has had both. May they both live long.

  • avatar
    like.a.kite

    Could it really be a Cadillac Corvette, instead of Chevrolet? Do the people who buy and/or think about the model think Chevy? Does acceptance in the first year or two even matter? I think by far the strongest reason against this editorial is that the Chevy Corvette name/combo brand holds [too?] much value.

    But that’s really about it. And, unfortunately and for the record (my record), I think it to be guaranteed GM will never ever make a Cadillac Corvette.

    Having read at least two-thirds the comments I still have not found any especially logical reason(s) in the defense of “don’t change Corvette anything”. A lot can’t get over the fact of its concept existing in the first place. I would really like to read someone’s thoughts on “why not kill the Corvette?” (For I have near none.)

  • avatar
    like.a.kite

    So, you’re for keeping an overpriced $100k Cadillac version of the Corvette, but against keeping the $50k-base-price Corvette?

    Curious logic, that.

    No it’s not. There’s no doubt a more expensive base Corvette would do GM better. “Overpriced” is most entirely subjective.

    It is similar to how Tesla should have been charging way, way more than like $105k right out of the gate (and had the right to, considering the product and its audience).

  • avatar
    Antohn Crispin

    To be fair, I think Mr. Farago’s stance is to also kill off other cars like the XLR and the Camaro and the Escalade EXT and anything Buick and anything SATURN and anything HUMMER and anything SAAB and anything Pontiac…

    It’s just that in this most recent editorial, he thinks its time to put the Corvette at the head of the chopping block line.

  • avatar
    ajla

    @Ronnie Schreiber :

    I’m aware of the goodness of the Corvette’s leaf springs, and I love the way GM does it. I definitely was not complaining, which can be evidenced by all of my comments on this editorial attempting to justify why the Corvette should say around and not become a Cadillac in the future.

    I still think the Corvette suspension technology leans more towards belonging with Chevrolet than Cadillac.

    However, I probably shouldn’t have said “low-tech” in hindsight.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Current economic trends do not support the production of most niche vehicles.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s a Corvette, LS430, or an MX-5. The economies of scale are becoming unworkable for most of the vehicles out there.

    The questions really is, “Which of these vehicles deserve to remain standing?”

    In the sports coupe market you have the Boxster, 350Z, Mustang, Corvette, RX-8, the upcoming Genesis, and at least a dozen or so models that are going to be competing for an incredibly small piece of the pie.

    I believe the ones with the least viability for platform sharing and 10,000+ in sales should bite the proverbial dust.

    Most likely culprits in the first round are…

    1 series (I) 716
    Z4 45
    SL class (I) 133
    SLK class (I) 172
    Volvo 30 series (I) 220
    Solstice 304
    Sky 194
    9-3 (I) 523
    9-5 (I) 101
    RX-8 (I) 156
    Eclipse 472
    Eclipse Spyder 468
    Boxster (I) 144
    Cayman (I) 122
    A5/S5 (I) 603
    A8/S8 (I) 95
    R8 (I) 107
    TT (I) 157

    If there isn’t enough room by that point, then the Corvette will have a serious problem.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    Steven Lang and Others:

    I hope nobody is comparing JANUARY sales for sports cars and trying to extrapolate sales for the entire year. Isn’t this one of the worst months for sports car sales? Economy aside, I would expect sales of all those cars on Steven’s list to pick up in April, May, June, etc.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    I like the Corvette, and always enjoy the chance to try out my brother-in-law’s 50th Anniversary model.

    But do I care if the model line goes away? Not really.

    Antohn Crispin :

    “To be fair, I think Mr. Farago’s stance is to also kill off other cars like the XLR and the Camaro and the Escalade EXT and anything Buick and anything SATURN and anything HUMMER and anything SAAB and anything Pontiac…”

    Well said. When it’s one’s own ox that’s getting the cutting blade, funny how all those logical arguments used ad nauseum here for other makes/models can be tossed aside for “halo” this, “technological” that.

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    @dgduris:
    Wew,

    Kiwwing the Cowvette wowld certainwy wet Congwessman Fwank know that yow awe dowing evewy thing in youw powewr to sawve the majowity of union wowkews (Democwat woters) jowbs (and vowtes).

    That may hewlp you get anothew $15 biwwion in bwidge woans to nowewr.

    And it wowld bwing Amewica cwosew to the awesome Pewosi GT as the perfowmance weader!

    I’m still laughing at that…

  • avatar
    SKT

    GM has done many things wrong in it’s 100+ years and cancelling the Corvette would not be the answer to GM’s woe’s.

    GM will have to be able to sustain itself by being smart, and that starts from getting the right people in the right positions to begin to turn the tide.

    There is much investment in the Corvette nameplate and to simply cancel it because it’s a niche car and/or not relevant for a “new” GM, is robbing the last bit of “soul” out of a company that desperately needs IT. The Corvette may not bring in the numbers and miopic analyst’s will provide reams of evidence to underscore this, and beancounter’s would agree that a GM without Corvette would “help” focus on the Malibu’s and such BUT, cancelling the Corvette and eradicating it’s existence from the Automotive landscape is non-sense.

    The Corvette and it’s ilk are justified examples of what a group of talented people are capable of achieving. The Corvette represents Chevrolet in the exact way it needs to be represented: solid value, reliability, unpretentious execution and quality.

    The Corvette is evidence of “LIFE” within the tubes. Perhaps the Corvette is not only meant to be a Halo car for Chevrolet/GM but, also an aspirational car for those working in GM that toil daily against the Borg-like corporate culture.

    The same approach, mindset, and know-how that created the Corvette should be studied/copied and applied to the future Malibu’s and Aveo’s, in no uncertain terms – anything less is not an option.

    Not certain if this was a troll piece however, if it was, then I fell for it – hook, line and sinker; however, if it wasn’t then it’s a let-down to know that RF really believes this. Why take this out on the Corvette? Ultimately, it’s people at the top that have failed repeatedly over the course of decades – if it’s blood you want, then serve up RW and chase down the remaing living GM top brass that put GM in it’s current demise however, don’t let the automotive ethusiasts and future automotive enthusiasts take the brunt for their irresponsible actions and in-actions.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Steven Lang: The questions really is, “Which of these (niche) vehicles deserve to remain standing?”

    That’s the best question asked on this thread. In recent years the industry has gone overboard in niche vehicles. This may have been a golden age for enthusiasts, but the economies of scale suck. So if the current economic climate doesn’t improve quickly, some serious pruning is in order by almost all automakers.

    For all of my complaining about Lutz’s focus on halo vehicles, GM hasn’t overextended itself to the degree of some others (e.g., BMW and Daimler).

    One point that hasn’t been discussed as much as it deserves is that GM has more than two choices: maintaining the Corvette as is versus killing it. For example, if the Corvette can no longer profitably sustain a stand-alone production facility, that will have to go. Perhaps the model range will need to be pruned, a lower-priced and more fuel-efficient base version added, and a redesign pushed well into the future.

    What gives this debate an artificial quality is that you don’t necessarily have to choose between white and black.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    If I’m not mistaken, GM was doing quite well without the Corvette prior to 1953. While force of Ed Cole’s personality and foresight to turn the program over to Zora Arkus-Duntov gets all the credit for saving the slow-selling, weak, six-cylinder, original car and turning it into a legitimate, all-American sports car in 1956 (the first year the legendary small-block V8 was finally added), it never would have happened if not for GM’s good fortune at the time.

    That’s the sole reason the Corvette has survived to this day – GM could simply afford it for all these years. Given GM’s current dire situation, it’s an interesting and debatable point that maybe it might not be such a bad idea to put the Corvette on hiatus until better times return. GM’s core business model is not selling Corvettes – it’s selling market-share volume to the masses.

    As to the viability of ‘halo’ vehicles actually helping to keep a struggling automaker afloat, here are a couple of models worth mentioning – Isuzu VehiCROSS and Studebaker Avanti.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    GM’s core business model is not selling Corvettes – it’s selling market-share volume to the masses.

    They may have been the model in the past. But now it’s based upon selling rental cars, and using incentives to give away the rest, at a loss.

    The Corvette is just about the only passenger car that GM sells that it can sell with some consistency without fleet sales to support it. Sales volumes were in the 30,000+/yr range, almost all going to retail, which given the price point may have well made it profitable.

    I’d go further and say that the only reason anyone even bothers mentioning Chevrolet as having even modest potential for a turnaround is because it is the Corvette that has prevented the brand from crossing the threshold from life support to death. Whatever subconscious positive vibe that the public may feel for the brand isn’t coming from the Aveo, that’s for sure.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    This is too simple…Is it profitable or even does it break even, let it live. If not, kill it. They killed the Camaro after all. It’s positioning as a Chevy has always perplexed me. How do you market Pontiac as the serious performance brand when your bread and butter division sells the company’s premiere sports car. I never saw it as a caddy either. If they wanted to keep Pontiac as a niche dealer, the vette should sell with the G8, a serious GTO, and perhaps a high end cobalt SS.

    As for the “chevy halo”, does anyone think that a corvette buyer comes to the showroom and says to themself “I like the Vette, but that Traverse looks oh so nice…”

    Having said that, I could see GM’s brand lineup like this:

    Chevy – Bread and butter models and trucks.

    Pontiac – As above, though I don’t see this lineup as sustaining a dealer network they could eventually be sold through Chevy or Caddy dealers.

    Cadillac – as is, but no more trucks or vettes.

    Saturn – Opels as Europeans get em (let them keep the good engines that the European market gets…no more ecotec only Astras).

    Buick, GMC, Hummer – KIA.

  • avatar
    SKT

    “It’s hard for enthusiasts to stomach the idea of unique products going away. I would remind them that energy is never lost– it just changes form.”

    No, it’s not hard for enthusiasts to stomach the idea of unique products going away – it’s hard for enthusiasts to stomach the idea of COOL products going away. And yes, thank you for the reminder that energy is never lost – it just changes form, and that in canning the Corvette it will be no different – energy-wise; however, what about the vacuum it will leave in the Automotive landscape, or does that even matter anymore? Since, if we’re all going to be matter of fact with reams of data in hand because energy is never lost, and apparently there isn’t a being alive on this planet that couldn’t manage the Chevrolet portfolio to include a niche car like the Corvette, let’s just can it and walk away and observe how Energy will re-form itself into something else? Sounds like a waste of energy to me.

    You gave a great review to the Corvette, and you’ve let us know that you still own a Porsche Boxster S (for a couple of more days) and you contend that one is not better than the other, just different

    And that’s exactly right – one is not better than the other, just different.

    In one way, the US auto industry has sparked an unbelievable amount of energy in galvanizing different cars for different people, with their hands tied behind their backs, tied BY THEIR OWN HANDS no less!!

    I just don’t see how getting rid of the Corvette is going to be the silver bullet for Chevrolet/GM. And since you brought up the fact that you’re not trolling a piece, and that TTAC is all about the thetruthaboutcars well then, the truthaboutcars is only truthful if RF says so?

    The truth is, we’re all enthusiasts or wannabe enthusiasts or just about to be enthusiasts, who are crazy enough to expend energy to log onto a site we enjoy, read through the articles, engage in debate and express OUR truths about cars, which in turn collectively becomes thetruthaboutcars. This is a slippery slope RF, and if we were to apply what you’re suggesting to Corvette to ourselves, how many of us would pass that test/threshold?

    We’re a collective of niche writers in a niche genre in the internet world. Perhaps some of us feel strongly and surprised by this piece because it’s like eating your own kind. Believe it or not, acknowledge it or not – without cars like the Corvette and it’s ilk, we wouldn’t be on this site or any other CAR site. We’d be driving our CamCordsMalibuTauri into the sunset with electric cords a-draggin from our collective tailpipes, spending our spare energy into contributing our thoughts in PC-automotive-less endeavors, clacking away on our keyboards trying to make sense out of our lives without gasoline in our viens, posting our thoughts on thetruthabouttoasters – gleefully.

    What a wonderful niche-less world that would be. “We are the Borg, and I killed the Corvette.”

  • avatar
    John Williams


    If I’m not mistaken, GM was doing quite well without the Corvette prior to 1953. While force of Ed Cole’s personality and foresight to turn the program over to Zora Arkus-Duntov gets all the credit for saving the slow-selling, weak, six-cylinder, original car and turning it into a legitimate, all-American sports car in 1956 (the first year the legendary small-block V8 was finally added), it never would have happened if not for GM’s good fortune at the time.

    Actually, it wouldn’t have happened if the Ford Thunderbird hadn’t come into play around 1955. Canning your own soft roadster when your competitor introduces their own soft roadster is pretty bad for PR, after all.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Any business, that intends to remain in business, must constantly review every part of that business to be profitable or more importantly, innovative.

    Sooner or later, GM have to review the Corvette, what it returns, what it means in the wider brand effort and what if any implication it has for other internal developments.

    Right now, I would guess that it comes out poorly in all those considerations.

    Keeping it, certainly within GM itself, suggests that GM are certainly not prepared for hard decisions. No-one should be surprised.

    It certainly won’t mean that we’re all driving around in a variation of the same car anytime shortly…. What nonsense.

  • avatar
    jayparry

    No.

    I would never buy a corvette or even chevy (maybe a Volt if it comes thru) but when people like clarkson give it their car of the year it makes me think Chevy can make a good car. The halo is working on me (slowly)

  • avatar
    wstansfi

    I’m with you. I can’t imagine cross-shopping a corvette and a porsche for the simple pain of having to deal with a chevy dealer. However, Cadillac buyers and corvette buyers also probably will not mix well. How come they can’t have a performance division… oh wait, that idea used to be pontiac…. Now, where were we?

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ RF

    5. As Pete Moran pointed out, there is no credible scientific evidence that a halo car does anything for any of the other products within a brand.

    For the record, that’s not quite what we found sorry RF. I don’t think it alters your point however.

    The best we could say was that within a brand ‘halo’ maybe had a reinforcing positive effect for an existing customer. In other words, you’re appealing to your own base or existing owners and even then, just barely.

    Outside of the brand, or for new customers, ‘halo’ had a near statistically insignificant effect on the way a potential customer felt about a brand.

    Either way, it was way way way down on the considerations for purchase when compared to things like quality, customer service, price, image etc…

  • avatar
    peteinsonj

    aveo, cobalt, malibu, impala…. corvette

    it does not fit the brand. period. nor does it contribute any core technologies to the core models.

    nor does the average Chevy dealer have the intelligence to offer the level of customer service against its price tag.

    really, as much as its an icon, it can die and it will not negatively impact GM one bit.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    What do you think made them Chevy fans in the first place? I bet a good amount of “die-hard” Chevy fans are Chevy fans because of the Corvette

    I doubt it, personally. I think that logic applies, at most, to teenage boys with posters of Corvettes on their wall. The kind of buyers who buy other GM cars because of the Corvette is so small as to be insignificant.

    To the average, good-credit buyer that GM needs to sell Malibus and Traverses to at a profit, the Corvette is a nifty thing in the back of the showroom that they might look at, but doesn’t mean squat. It’s presence will have exactly zero chance of convincing said buyer to choose the Malibu/Traverse over the Camry/Highlander. None. Zip. Zero.

    The logic people are using here would apply if we were talking about Porsche knifing the 911 to funnel development dollars into the Cayenne and Panamera, or Ferrari bailing on F1. We’re not talking about Porsche, Lamborghini, Aston-Martin or the like—makes who live and die by high-profit niche cars. GM is a huge company, and it needs to general huge net profits to survive. It does (or rather, would do) this by selling large numbers of reasonably profitable, segment-competitive vehicles, spread across a wide spectrum of buyers.

    Or, to put it this way: what Toyota does.

    The Corvette, cool as it is, does not do what GM needs to survive. If GM were healthy, the Corvette could live. With GM on the ropes and gutting itself to stay alive, it needs to find a sustainable strategy. That strategy includes, say, a slightly better Malibu, a much better Cobalt, an Aveo that’s nothing like the current crapbucket, and perhaps a fleet of decent crossovers and light trucks. It might include a focused Cadillac. It does not, strictly speaking, need the Corvette.

    I’d say pause it for a few years and bring it back if and when they have the resources. There’s no shame in a strategic retreat, not under the circumstances.

  • avatar
    Beenman

    Aren’t journo’s the first to complain when Automakers don’t have any excitement in their product line-up? Now you advocate dropping one of the most exciting American sportscars all in the name of profits?

  • avatar
    TRL

    This article is nuts. GM needs a complete house cleaning and you are suggesting emptying the ash trays. With all the huge problems GM has this is so far down the list it is but a pimple on its ass. It doesn’t matter if it makes money or not. It is a small plus or a small minus in the world of Billion $ problems. Stop spending on new ones right now. Kill all R&D etc. but it is chump change either way if it is built or not and it really sends a bad message to the market place if they bail on it.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Robert Farago :
    February 14th, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I’m sure GM knows the profit/loss on each model, which I’d also like to know.

    Well, let’s suppose you actually had the facts here, and that the Corvette makes a moderate amount of $$ for GM (which most believe it has, 2009 notwithstanding), would you still be petitioning for its termination?

  • avatar

    doctorV8

    Yes. (ducks) There are three main reasons to kill the ‘Vette.

    1. To save Chevrolet (refocus brand)
    2. To send a message to all stakeholders that this ain’t no party, this ain’t disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around
    3. To concentrate GM’s engineering resources where it matters. (If you think the ‘Vette’s the biz, why not let these guys loose on the important products? Important as in “save the company” important.)

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    3. To concentrate GM’s engineering resources where it matters. (If you think the ‘Vette’s the biz, why not let these guys loose on the important products? Important as in “save the company” important.)

    The C6 is a profitable car, been in production for 4 years. I understand (but disagree with) your first two points, but #3 really gets me. You do realize that most of Corvette’s technology filters down to other cars, right? It’s gotta be tried out somewhere. Look at ABS brakes (1986) port fuel injection (1985), low tire pressure sensors (1990) 6 speed transmissions (1989), hydroformed chassis and the LS engine series (1997)….the list goes on and on….

    My point is, Corvette engineering does not exist in a vacuum. Engineering resources from the Vette benefit the entire brand. Let the C6 soldier on in its current guise, as it will probably be fully competitive for years to come. Unless massive re-engineering is going to be mandated soon by federal law, I would leave it alone. If CAFE is an issue, put the existing 4.8L V8 in it with DOD and a 2.73 rear end…and it will get 30 mpg on the highway all day long.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    psarhjinian :

    Sure, the Vette appeals to teenage boys. I doubt a soccer mom looking at a Traverse really cares at all about the 436hp car in the corner of the show room. But my point still remains, if you concede that a certain portion of Chevy buyers are inclined to purchase Chevy products because they’re “die hard fans”, what made them “die hard fans” in the first place? It could have been Dale Ernhardt, it could have been their family’s tradition of buying Sliverados, but for a certain portion of those ‘die hard’ fans, I would be willing to bet their love of Corvettes played a big role in their love of Chevy.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    My point is, Corvette engineering does not exist in a vacuum. Engineering resources from the Vette benefit the entire brand.

    I’m not sure this is really the case. There’s not much that you can share between a dedicated-chassis rear-drive sports car and a mass-market front-drive sedan. What makes a good example of the former isn’t necessarily a good fit for the latter, at least not any more. There’s not much need for a hydroformed chassis or the LS-series engine in a Malibu.

    Again, let’s use Toyota as an example: variable valve timing and lift showed up in the Echo/Yaris before appearing in the rest of the lineup, while hybrid power showed it’s faced in the Echo-a-like Prius. At VW, twincharging and direct injection debuted in the Golf, as did most of it’s diesel innovation. Safety and convenience features do show up in higher-trim models, but these are usually luxury car, not sports cars. Examples include things like Mercedes’ PreSafe or Volvo’s BLIS.

    It’s not the the Corvette can’t contribute engineering to the rest of the enterprise, but that it’s not as significant as it once was. I don’t think the missions of specialized sports cars and mainstream sedans/crossovers converge enough for technology sharing to really be feasible, or justification, any longer. The cars are just too different.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    There’s not much need for a hydroformed chassis or the LS-series engine in a Malibu.

    But there is a need for those technologies in a Silverado. And a CTS. Should GM kill them off too?

    What about the Malibu’s ABS/traction control? Its low tire pressure sensors? Its various weight saving measures?

    Hell, even its steering wheel comes from the Vette (lol)…

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I don’t think the missions of specialized sports cars and mainstream sedans/crossovers converge enough for technology sharing to really be feasible, or justification, any longer.

    You have it exactly backwards. There is now more convergence between sports and regular passenger cars today than there was in the past, not less.

    If sports cars face a challenge in the future, it’s that it is no longer necessary to build such a specialized body style to get performance that would be considered absolutely outstanding by 99% of the population. It’s now possible to build a sedan that can do virtually everything that a specialty coupe can do.

    Still, that sporty look is good for the brand. Get rid of the Corvette, and you’ve just transformed Chevy from a wounded brand with modest potential for recovery into Buick’s Rental Division. GM has enough problems as is, and when looked at strictly as a branding exercise, getting rid of the Vette would only make things worse.

  • avatar
    akear

    GM ditching the Corvette would be like the Yankees getting rid of both A-Rod and Jetter.
    Without cars like the CTS and Corvette GM would be bit of a joke.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Yes. (ducks) There are three main reasons to kill the ‘Vette.

    1. To save Chevrolet (refocus brand)

    2. To send a message to all stakeholders that this ain’t no party, this ain’t disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around

    3. To concentrate GM’s engineering resources where it matters. (If you think the ‘Vette’s the biz, why not let these guys loose on the important products? Important as in “save the company” important.)

    #1 would make sense if in fact moving the Vette to another division was part and parcel of an honest attempt at brand focus. But I don’t think it would be.

    We kinda know Chevy is basic transport, but we don’t know if it means American made, Mexican made, Korean made, or if where it’s made just isn’t going to be part of the brand identity. As for myself, if I buy an import, it will be made in Ohio, not Mexico or Korea. Is Chevy going to make all sizes and shapes of vehicles – just low end? Your essay suggests a 3 model approach for Chevy, but I see no evidence Chevy is heading that way. There is more work to do than shifting ‘Vette somewhere.

    Additionally you suggest ‘Vette pops up again as a Caddy, thus deteriorating (even further) the lack of focus in that division. 6 of one, half dozen of the other.

    #2. Given the responses so far, I’d suspect most stakeholders would look upon the news as they’ve looked upon your editorial – WTF? GM has a vehicle they (most likely) make money on. Go ahead and make the money, and attend to the 400 or so more pressing problems.

    #3. That would make sense, if in fact it were possible to put the ‘Vette team on redoing say the Cobalt. But cobalt has to sell for $15K, not $50K. But maybe you have a point. ‘Vette, even if kept, doesn’t need to be improved or updated for a while. Put the team on something else and see if they can make any progress.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    really, as much as its an icon, it can die and it will not negatively impact GM one bit.…

    Really? Can you imagine the 10 O’clock news telling of the “death” of the Corvette. This story will travel globally, since the world is already pissed off at selfish American greed for screwing the global economy. Most of America will assume GM is dead. Sales, already really low, will drop further still. Yeah, RF, GM is almost dead, but management has already done a stellar job of killing it. They don’t need to push the knife in deeper, which is what killing the ‘Vette would do. Even if the car only breaks even, eliminating it would cause much more damage that the dollar value of what it brings in. Let it ride…C7 will have to wait a few years.

  • avatar
    exnilo

    Ok so RF didn’t like my previous comment on this post, something about flaming. Ok. So here in greater detail is my thought behind why this is a non starter.

    Kill Corvette you kill GM. GM is already dying. Killing the product that actually gets you airtime, be it in reviews, or TV shows, or tuners keeps the brand alive. The argument for Corvette is that its a far better bit of advertising to keep it then to get your 5 minutes of fame for killing it. Want to see GM sink even faster then do it.

    That better? ;)

  • avatar
    njdave

    Halo cars do not work for the simple fact that halo cars do not attract buyers to BRANDS, they attract people to TYPES. A buyer is not going to conclude that the Corvette won’t work for him and turn around and buy a Cobalt SS. He is going to buy a Boxster or a Miata or a GT-R. It is like trucks to me. I don’t drive trucks. I won’t drive trucks. So when I go a dealer (which is way to frequently lately, what with 2 kids just turned driving age) I walk right past the trucks to the cars. A brand could have the best trucks in the world, heck they could have the ONLY truck in the world, it still will not attract me to that brand.

    I have loved Corvettes as long as I can remember. But I have never owned one. I live in a part of the country where it snows every winter. I can only afford one car for my use, and it has to get me to work and get me home every day, even if there is 6 inches of snow. Sadly, the Corvette doesn’t fit that description. Most people are like me. So even though it is true as some have said, that the Corvette is the sports car blue collar types can aspire to, most of them can never buy one no matter how much they want to. Robert is right, the Corvette is regrettably a luxury that GM cannot afford any more.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    njdave,

    Please don’t impose your own personal restrictions on the 30 to 40 thousand of us every year that find the Corvette an eminently justifiable purchase.

  • avatar
    Joe Raymond

    The “trickle down” of halo cars is enormous.

    For the Corvette, it was:

    Mechanical Fuel Injection (late 50′s..it wasn’t “invented” here, but was made to work here)
    4-wheel Disc brakes (60′s)
    Suspension Technologies
    R and then Z-rated tires
    Port fuel injection (electronic)
    Injection molded body panels
    Forged AL suspension components
    ABS brakes
    Traction Control
    Hydro-formed frames
    Big cubic inch engines that get by the gas guzzler tax (without going to high-winding, overly complicated overhead cam designs).
    Again…brakes, ABS and traction control.

    And that is just the tip of a very significant iceberg.

    I’ve owned 4 Corvettes now. It was a passion to own one when I was wrenching on my ’70 Chevelle SS 396. The good will the Corvette gets from the world is simply astounding. Go to any Corvette-centric web site and you’ll find passionate owners around the world.

    Corvettes (and racing) have done more for the GM marque than anything else the “general” has ever done. It shows we can do it better, cheaper and still with higher engineering quality than manufacturers who build cars 3x-4x (and more) $$ than the Corvette.

    This race engineering is built into every GM product today. What is learned on the endurance track trickles right down to the every day car in their line. Engines that can go 300k-400k miles was unheard of in the 60′s, now it is more common than you think.

    Mr. Farago…it is painfully obvious to most of us you have no clue what you are talking about.

    The men with the white coats are waiting outside your door…let them in and give us all a break from your worthless rants.

    To kill the only car Chevy has that actually makes money for GM AND contributes so much to the technology they put into their entire line of cars is nutz…

    Is the Corvette a necessity? NO

    Is it a performance giant amongst its rivals? YES

    Does it do any good to the rest of GM? Most definitely YES!

    And for those saying “Stop the development!” answer this…

    How can GM make cars that get better mileage, possible go completely green without development?

    It can’t be done.

    If GM could get the UAW to slow down production of cars that are not selling, they wouldn’t be in this mess. But to be hamstrung by the unions into paying for workers…if they are actually working or not, is crazy.

    It actually costs GM LESS money to produce the cars than to shut down the line for a month…all due to the $$$ they bleed out to the unions if they “furlough” the workers.

    Your unions at work…

  • avatar
    Ram1234

    I haven’t owned a Chevy since my used 71 Impala. The new Corvette is the first Chevy I’ve considered buying in 25 years. Perhaps that is because it is not indicative of the rest of the Chevrolet line up.

    I will say this, I’m not into the “four wheels transportation” thing this guy is professing as GM’s salvation. I’ve never owned a foreign car, but if Chevy dumped the Corvette, I would also have no reason to set foot in a Chevy dealership, for myself, my wife or daughters.

    When people talk about GM”s problems I think they forget that the entire world is in a steep recession. France is subsidizing its car industry, Toyota is even posting losses.

    Admittedly, the course he is suggesting is in line with Honda. A short line up of well-built simple cars. It works for Honda, why not for GM? Perhaps it may work. Or perhaps GM maintained it’s dominance as the worlds largest automobile manufacturer (until very recently) by doing somethings right. GM (like many other businesses) is in real trouble, when you talk about the bailout, don’t forget, you’re bailing out Americans. If GM, Chrysler or Ford die, we will all be buying our cars from companies outside of the United States. That means that while we may be able to control this crisis to a degree, if it weren’t GM, Ford or Chrysler, we (the consumers) would still be footing the bill of some other foreign car company.

    Leave the Corvette alone, fix the unions, fix the economy, and the American car companies will do just fine.

  • avatar
    EddieNYC

    2008 Corvette Sales:

    (Sales) x (Profit per Car) = :)

    (35,310)x ( $50,000) = 1,765,500,000.00
    (35,310)x ( $40,000) = 1,412,400,000.00
    (35,310)x ( $30,000) = 1,059,300,000.00
    (35,310)x ( $20,000) = 706,200,000.00
    (35,310)x ( $10,000) = 353,100,000.00
    (35,310)x ( $5,000) = 176,550,000.00

    I don’t think its 50K, 40k, or 30k…

  • avatar
    grifonik

    Umm… dyslexia of thought? I think he meant kill everything EXCEPT the Corvette.

    Forgive his momentary thought order challenged mind.

  • avatar
    commando1

    Without Corvette, GM is just an appliance builder.

  • avatar
    menno

    Put the Corvette to sleep for a decade or so, until the current autopocolypse either finishes NGM (New Government Motors) or NGM starts to make sufficient profit to pay back OUR loans (I’m speaking as an American taxpayer here), and then has sufficient money to develop a new car.

    Perhaps with a hybrid drive 2.5 litre hemi V8, which certainly worked well enough for the early 1960′s Daimler SP250.

    By 2019, it’d probably be the only V8 on the market anyway…

    This would ensure that some GM vehicles would at least have some collector car cachet despite a large proportion of the US population planning to / already boycotting New Government Motors.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    What GM needs to do is build a Corvette SUV!

    Seriously I have mentally separated GM’s best cars from the cars I could afford. In other words GM can build good cars but I can’t afford any of them. The cars that I can afford – the sub ~$25K cars are either undesirable (Buick) or not worth a damn (Aveo).

    The truly good GM products I could afford are centered around trucks and SUVs. And I don’t want one of those. Don’t need the size, weight or capability – I can borrow one when I need it.

    They made a half-assed attempt at failing to sell us Opels (which I would have bought eventually when I needed one) but they failed to follow through with that. Did very little to make them desirable with promotion and so forth.

    I think what GM needs to be able to do with the Corvette is learn to make other products turn a profit at such low production levels. I suspect that much of the Corvette overhead is shared expenses with vehicles that receive Corvette DNA eventually and without the volume of those lesser products that the Corvette will no longer be worth it’s expense to develop and build. I gotta believe that GM considers that some of the development costs of Corvettes will be paid back when those designs reach the lesser brands.

    Perhaps they need to learn how to make a profitable Camaro at 2500 units per year, the SSR at 2500 profitable units are year (yes I know it is dead), and a smaller convertible at 2500 units per year and so on. Then they can have 10 different models and not absolutely flood the markets with GM products and they won’t be dependent on building 5 million units per year only to make a modest profit in tight economies. This would enable them to make several interesting products in small quantities, products that would be highly sought after products b/c they were always in short supply, and rare enough like some of the European luxury brands that people who wanted something different would be satisfied.

    GM could still build some products small, medium and large in greater quantities – with production adjusted when they have a hit product on their hands.

    They are going to have to leave behind the notion that they can reserve desirability for certain portions of their product lineup. The little products are still going to have to be stylish, desirable and quality products. See Civic, Golf, Corolla, etc. Corvette and Caddy can’t be the only good looking products.

    See how the smaller vehicles are promoted in Europe and what options a small car comes with there. Same could be applied to small cars and mid-sized vehicles here. I don’t want to have to buy the top-dog products to get the features. I want a smaller car (again Golf sized) with good economy that comes with those little extra pieces of trim and the clever details.

    I think seriously GM ought to suspend Corvette production (I see that they have) for a period if the ‘vette is not directly being a positive part of their bottom line. Perhaps GM needs to move the engineers and production staff to the other product lines to make those products as good as the Corvette – or – as good as the competition’s products in those segments. Extra quality inspections. Clever solutions for production problems. Better ways of making a car – through better designs, better materials (better plastics or aluminum instead of plastic), etc. GM is already paying those people’s salaries. Why not? Where would the extra cost come from?

  • avatar
    Jeeshman

    This suggestion is too insane to merit an intelligent response. Do away with the only interesting car General Motors sells!? Farago’s license to comment about cars should be revoked, post haste.

  • avatar
    Anna Mac

    Well, I’m late to this party but if you’re going to list a Corvette blog, I’m going to post.

    Joe beat me to the trickle effect. The most important contribution to automotive engineering worldwide has been the hydro-formed aluminum frame rail. That is why C5 Corvette convertibles are stiffer than Mercedes coupes.

    Having said that, and while trying to suppress the flames that are just aching to be read, don’t write about what you don’t know. Impala’s and Malibu’s are every bit as good as the truck line up. Pontiac’s are bye-bye but they built really distinctive and powerful cars. Buick has some of the most beautiful cars built today. Cadillac is Cadillac and I couldn’t live without one. To the day I die, there will be a Corvette and a Cadillac in the garage. You don’t know what you’re missing and I’m not sure you could tell the difference anyway.

  • avatar
    Copy Chef

    Let’s face it, GM now stands for “GOVERNMENT MOTORS,” which it well should, since your and my tax dollars (i.e., the money we’d otherwise have to spend on our kids’ college educations and our retirements) are being squandered by the Obama administration to “bail out” this tragically obsolete company. Which is why I agree the Corvette must go the way of the buffalo. And those of you who don’t agree, check back around April 15 when you find out how much the bailout of GM and Chrysler and the other mismanaged greed-infested corporations will cost you in real dollars.

    The Corvette is a status symbol. And we can ill afford to underwrite some bald fat 50+ guy’s lifelong ambition to own one at the expense of our children and grandchildren. Nobody “needs” a car that goes that fast and has enough cargo space for a box of kleenex. It’s an automotive surrogate penis, and not a great one at that.

    I personally will never buy another GM vehicle (I’m proud to say I’ve never owned a Chrysler). Their quality sucks for what you pay and their lack of attention to gas mileage is unforgivable. I’ll stick with my Fords, thanks. They didn’t drink the bailout Kool Aid and their product is as good or better than the other 2 of the “big 3.” Not to mention a far wiser idea than sending your hard-earnt dollars to Japan or Korea.

    I will no doubt get a bunch of “car guys” writing in that disagree vehemently with me. But if they need to validate their masculinity so desperately, they can all get themselves huge shiny belt buckles – at least my grandkids won’t have to pay for that.

  • avatar
    Spencer Williams

    This post is ridiculous and makes me question why I even read this website. Wow. Just wow. You don’t like GM, we get it.

  • avatar
    Ronman

    I know this is very late to the discussion, but i will say it anyway, i hope RF reads it…
     
    Robert, if you want to see how the Corvette relates the Chevy and it’s core unsophisticated clientele, all you have to do is look under the skin. It’s a super sports car that uses Leaf Springs!… Leaf Springs, you can’t get more backwards and inline with the Chevy simpletons than that…
     
    On the other hand (despite the advantage of hindsight), perhaps if the Corvette were split as a brand on its own such as in Europe, it would make more sense, and the hierarchy of a GS, Z06, and ZR-1 would make perfect sense. The Camaro would then be Chevy’s Halo car, more accessible, more attainable, and more in line with the Chevrolet brand image

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Ronman,
     
    If you’re gonna post 2 years late, at least get your facts straight. The myth that Corvette leaf springs are the same as on your pickup truck has been widely debunked over the years. In fact, the combination of transverse leafs with Corvette’s Magnetorheological shocks is one of the most sophisticated suspension setups ever to roll down the road and track.
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corvette_leaf_spring


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