Production on the all new seventh generation 2014 Corvette Stingray has begun, though they haven’t officially gone on sale yet while the inventory pipeline fills. It’s the first time in decades that the Stingray name has been used by the Corvette. However, it turns out that you can buy a brand new Stingray right now, and for only about $7,000. There’s just one catch. It’s not a Corvette, made by Chevy or even sold in the United States.
Just yesterday we covered news about Tesla’s trademark troubles in China and potential conflicts with Ford over their registration of the Model E name here in the United States. It’s possible that Chevrolet may face a similar problem if it wants to expand the Corvette brand globally.
Today, in the comments to my post about Elio Motors, the question was raised, why is Elio building their own engine instead of buying it from a car company or engine manufacturer? I started to check out which car companies build 1 liter 3 cylinder engines to see just who could sell Elio Motors their, well, motors. Ford isn’t going to be selling anyone their one liter EcoBoost engine as they roll out the all new engine in their own cars, and GM’s new small 3 cylinder won’t see production for a while. I decided to check out what Suzuki is making, since the Elio prototype uses a Suzuki engine pulled out of something like a Geo Metro.
Speaking of pulling out, Suzuki has exited the U.S. car market, but there is one place in the world where they are the market leader, India. Decades ago when the then socialist government in India wanted to jumpstart an indigenous automobile industry, they invited Suzuki to join the Indian government in setting up Maruti Suzuki. As the Indian economy moved to more of a free-market system, the government has divested its shares, but Suzuki is still the best selling brand in India. So I checked out the Marti Suzuki retail web site for India, and what do I see?
They’re indeed selling a 1 liter 3 cylinder engine in India, and it’s available in four door hatchback called the Stingray that starts at just over 423,000 rupees, about $6,700, close to the suggested price of the Elio Motors three wheeler. I’ll have to check with our man on the subcontinent, Faisal Ali Khan, but I believe that the Suzuki Stingray competes with the Chevy Sail U-VA hatchback, at least on price.
As just referenced, Chevrolet does have a presence in India and GM has been expanding its production capacity in that country, for both local demand and for giving it options as an export hub should building cars in Korea get too expensive. It doesn’t, however sell the Corvette there, at least officially. The Captiva SUV is the most expensive Chevrolet branded vehicle on sale in India, starting at 2,349,802 rupees, about $37,000 in U.S. dollars. Still, there probably is at least a small market for the Vette in India. Luxury and high performance car makers have expanded their presence there. Porsche has seven dealers there. Jaguar, which is owned by Tata, an Indian company, has fifteen dealers. People may think of India as a poor country but some of its billion or so residents are rather wealthy. Not long ago an Indian father was arrested for letting his 9 year old son drive the family’s Ferrari 430 as a birthday present.
Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS