By on March 27, 2017

2015-Chevrolet-CorvetteZ06-003-sm

Former General Motors vice chairman and product development bigwig Bob Lutz has always had lots to say about the Chevrolet Corvette, and advanced age hasn’t diminished his enthusiasm for the model and its potential.

Even in the pre-recession, pre-bankruptcy days, a pre-retirement Lutz opined that the ‘Vette nameplate could host more than just a sports car. Back then, Lutz wasn’t saying that Corvette should be spun off as its own make, but he is now.

In an exercise in hypothetical product planning, The Detroit News envisioned a future — renderings and all — in which the Corvette brand spawns a sport SUV, a la Porsche and just about every other high-performance, premium automaker.

Such a creation could prove a money-maker for GM, especially if the automaker abides by the ‘Vette tradition of using plenty of off-the-shelf parts, the publication figures. Calling it the XC7, writer Henry Payne assembled advice from ex-GM brass on how the utility vehicle could succeed. What automaker wouldn’t want the bragging rights of a 650-horsepower, Z06-powered do-anything wagon?

Both Lutz and former Corvette program head Tom Wallace agree on the basics. A lightweight body structure, rear-drive proportions and optional all-wheel drive are no-brainers for a sport SUV, as are the Corvette’s engines. Lutz clearly has Porsche on the brain.

“Like the Cayenne, the appeal of the ’Vette SUV would be RWD proportions. It should, in fact, have a silhouette not too different from a Cayenne,” he said. Its price would also need to undercut the Europeans.

While he admits that the need to develop a suitable platform for such a vehicle could sink the project, not to mention the sales damage it could do to Cadillac and GMC, Lutz remains bullish on the Corvette’s brand power. If not an SUV, then something else.

“Corvette is a powerful brand that should be developed,” he said. “Go upmarket with a mid-engine sedan using big Cadillac CT6 architecture, and maybe eventually something like Cayenne. They would split it off from Chevrolet — nobody makes that connection anyway.”

[Image: General Motors]

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56 Comments on “Bob Lutz Thinks Corvette Should Be a Brand...”


  • avatar
    Lynchenstein

    Can’t wait for the Corvette Carnivore (the badge-engineered truck to take on the Raptor)

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    ” “Go upmarket with a mid-engine sedan using big Cadillac CT6 architecture, and maybe eventually something like Cayenne.”

    Dementia is sad.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      Put the engine in the back seat!

      Put the back seat in the trunk!

      Put the trunk in th… Hmmm.

      And that’s how we’ll wind up with the doorstop-shaped Corlutz Berlinetta Vanden Platz 500 Shooting Brake.

      • 0 avatar
        Ko1

        “And that’s how we’ll wind up with the doorstop-shaped Corlutz Berlinetta Vanden Platz 500 Shooting Brake.”

        Sounds good but I think we need to find a way to brougham that up a bit and maybe incorporate some of that faux wood paneling on the sides. Oh! And it needs a hood ornament! A really, really big one!

        Job done! Now, I have some great ideas for an air cooled, rear engine car and then you guys gotta hear about this compact car I’ve been thinking about. Get this, it has an ALL aluminum four cylinder engine! And we can put baffles in the oil pan to allow us to ship them nose down!

        You know what GM really needs? Some of those diesel engines! And then…

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I’m hoping he meant *big*-engine sedan and was just mis-quoted.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      Came here to say this. Not disappointed that I’m not the only one thinking it.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Maximum Bob is just being maximum Bob!

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    This is the same short-sighted thinking that led to the 2008 collapse and rescue. Too many brands and overlapping models. The Hummer brand?

    Just build a mid-engine model above the Corvette (Zora) to compete with Supercars like the NSX and 911. Build a replacement for the Solstice/Sky with the Chevrolet badge to compete with the Miata/124 and call it a day.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Hummer immediately came to mind here too. Why does everything have to be a brand these days? Oh that’s right Chevy only makes one thing people actually lust after… and its called Corvette. So make everything a Corvette FTW? Ummm no the opposite would happen. Corvette is unique so it needs to stay that way. However if the current one turns into a mid engine supercar then a mini-Vette starts making sense. But an SUV? Please no, leave that to Caddy.

    • 0 avatar

      You guys really think HUMMER was that much of a waste, huh?

      If it weren’t for HUMMER, you wouldn’t have had the Jeep renaissance of the late-00s.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      I wonder why GM shuddered HUMMER. Jeep is making a killing and HUMMER was the only brand that could mount a legitimate challenge. It had similar provenance, people loved them, and they made money hand over fist.

      They had an HMX concept to take on the Wrangler. I would’ve have loved to see the competition. Jeep is selling very well. Ford is bringing the Bronco and Ranger back. The truck/SUV market is a money maker and HUMMER and based on what HUMMER was and where it came from I think it would’ve have gotten a good portion of a still hot market.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Does anyone doubt that a Corvette SUV would instantly become the official car of the NFL?

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Corvettes need to sit in showrooms right next to common Chevys. They’re the bait (and switch) for Malibus and other GM barely sellables, for when victims come in to drool on the Corvette. Isn’t that the marketing plan?

    As they hit the auto mall, they stopped to check out the Corvette momentarily on the way to buy an EDGE, Rogue, Rav4 or something, then BAM they drive away in a new Chevy before they know what hit ’em.

    Surely GM isn’t thinking the Corvette is profitable enough, in and of itself.

    Come to think of it, since the Corvette has no Chevy “Bowtie” emblems or Chevrolet signage, it should sit in Buick and Cadillac dealer showrooms too, just the same. Any GM dealer should be able to service Corvettes too.

    • 0 avatar
      Lynchenstein

      The logo has a bowtie:

      http://s3files.core77.com/blog/images/2013/01/corvette-logos-14.jpg

      Edit: Sigh, I have no idea how to embed an image. Is it possible?

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      The idea of spinning off Corvette into a separate brand has been kicked around for years. It would be a dumb idea for the reasons you mentioned. The Corvette is a rare “halo car” that worked as intented. For all practical purposes, Corvette already is its own brand – have you ever heard a ‘Vette owner when asked what s/he drives, answer “a Chevy”? It would be like making Mustang its own brand. It already is, yet it also helps the image of Ford.

  • avatar
    probert

    …and they could call the sedan the “Lutz 5000”. Hotcakes.

  • avatar
    deanst

    At 85, bob has forgotten more about the industry than most will ever know. If theres one thing GM needs its a brand with some power, and corvette is it.

  • avatar
    319583076

    Corvette *is* a brand and has been for some time. No one talks about their “Chevy” or buys ugly old-man leather jackets with “Chevrolet” plastered all over them. They have, do, and will mention their “Corvette” ad naseum.

    The value of diluting that brand by adding other vehicles is debatable, but there’s no doubt that Corvette is a stand-alone brand.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Bad idea, a least to me. How many Vette SUV’s could you build? If they match C7 sales, that means about 35K units a year. Is that really worth it? Unlike Porsche, Corvette is not a snot brand. Porsche’s SUV gained a foothold in wealthy neighborhoods based on the badge. Most of its drivers likely don’t care about anything else. The Corvette badge will not do this. Actually, those who buy it will probably care more about its performance than the Cayenne buyers. Still, not enough to be worth it.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    You can make anything work with the right analysis and subsequent planning and execution. But I don’t trust that GM can spin off Corvette because they haven’t even fixed Cadillac yet.

    Dodge tried to spin off Viper as a brand and we see how that worked out. Not well. It would be incredibly difficult to undo damage done by spinning off Corvette as a brand.

    The only way I think this could work is if there were already other variants of the Corvette established. If there were a smaller Corvette aimed at the Boxster/Cayman or a Corvette Grand Tourer with a soft suspension and a nice interior, or a Vette SUV to compete with the Cayenne. The latter sounds like it would be pretty awesome.

    No matter, it’s not like GM will take his advice anyway. They’ve already done away with the L(u)TZ trim and say what you want, I’m sure part of the reason was a snub to him.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Just focus on building decent cars for a change, insted of dorking around with badge monikers and rearranging dealerships so that “special” models are sold in the coffee shop section…. That’s all.

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      No, there’s more: Stop changing the model name of every dud you make, and stand behind every product like you’ve done with the Corvette.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        I’d agree with that. You can only get away with changing the name of the same snake oil that didn’t work last time so many times, before the patsies wise up and turn their attention to someone less shifty.

  • avatar
    Sgt Beavis

    I totally agree with Lutz. The C7 (and eventual C8) are going to be harder and harder to sustain on their own. It will eventually be lost in the mix of Chevy nameplates.

    But on it’s own, Corvette could thrive on the Porsche model. It would also free them up to do non traditional things like a lower priced 4turbo model. They’ve even got a history of nameplates that could be adapted. Just think..

    C7 (eventually C8 and C9) – The Vette we all know and love.
    MantaRay – SUV
    Mako Shark – Sedan
    StingRay – affordable 4 or 6 cylinder turbo
    ZR1 – Hypercar
    Z06 – Performance variants

  • avatar
    islander800

    Makes perfect sense!

    Bob is a consummate car guy and his instincts have (almost) always been bang on. He’s right in the potential for a Corvette division and it’s correct to say nobody thinks “Chevrolet” about Corvette today.

    What’s wrong with spinoffs? Hollywood’s grown rich on them and it applies as much to cars.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I noticed that C7s are being advertised for a little under $50K right now. If GM does decide to “improve” it in the next few years, picking up one of the last OG ones is a tempting idea.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    It’s this kind of thinking that ultimately led to Cimarron.

    It may be a valid notion, but you must evaluate it in context of what will happen to it once it hits the GM washing machine. Various idiots will spin and spin and spin it until you end up with a Sonic with ‘Vette headlights, taillights, and emblems, sitting right there in the “Corvette” dealership–which will be a carpeted area off to the side in the main showroom of Job Bob’s Downtown Chevrolet.

    And those managers will be SO proud of what they’ve done! Mission accomplished!

    You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it.

  • avatar

    Howcomzit’s NEVER discussed how maybe the Ford GT should be its own brand?

    Because it’s a dumb idea.

    Chevrolet and Corvette are tied at the hip, as well they should. Corvette is the halo Chevrolet with Camaro as its kid brother. Chevy, like Ford, Toyota and Honda, are “All Things To Most People” brands. Ten years ago I’d have included Dodge on that list but ol’ Serg has killed off that dynamic as he chokes the ChryCo part of FCA to death, leaving only Jeep to thrive.

    I greatly respect Lutz. But on this one, he’s wrong.

  • avatar
    Rday

    This guy is a completely hollow imitation of what a real car guys is. His career is a mixed bag at best and he was one of the con men that were responsible for the bankruptcy of GM. To quote him on this website is a discredit to the real honest car men and yes, there are some. Ripping off the GM stockholders/bondholders while making a personal fortune himself, and then turning his mess over to the Federal Government [we the people] is the kind of men that did a disservice to us all. We need to forget this character and hope that [real honest men/women] can keep Gm in business. Don’t hold your breath on this one!!!! There is so much corruption and self interest in Detroit that i don’t see much hope for them in the long run.

  • avatar
    akatsuki

    Why not revive Oldsmobile and Hummer and every other dead brand? They cant even manage Cadillac properly.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    Corvette as a sports car faces two problems. One ,the generation of old white guys who viewed it as “every man’s sports car” will age out of the marketplace.

    Following them: a generation of people who associate “Sports” with a Ford Raptor or similar vehicle.

    Problem number two: there’s little room for the Corvette to grow and improve. What else can be done on its current platform? They can engineer a nicer C8- but nice enough to overcome used car depreciation on a 90% as good C7?

    Taking the Vette upmarket is the only way to solve both issues. Making the Corvette a truly high-end car at the level of a Ferrari 488 is the best approach to this. Mid engine,active aero,the works. Shrinks the sales and elevates the brand at the same time,cause GM won’t need to selll 40,000 car per annum to recoup a higher margin,six figure cost vehicle. And such a Corvette wouldn’t be easily topped by a used C7 .

    Of course then it doesn’t make much sense to have it be a Chevy still. You can’t take a standard Corvette seriously if if costs six figures and has a bow tie on the user manual……

  • avatar
    phreshone

    Just bring back Pontiac

    minimize Buick cannibalization

    1 – Bonneville – Impala w/ 2.5l turbo – thus not shared in buick or chevy line
    2 – Safari – Wagon version of Impala
    3 – Grand Safari – “alltrak” AWD version
    4 – Grand Prix – Malibu w/ 2.0T engine
    5 – Grand Am – current Vauxhall Astra 4 dr hatch

  • avatar
    bluegoose

    I think if you made Cadillac into a cushy luxury brand it could work. You could have a performance SUV called the Corvette Nomad and a electric Miata figher called the Corvette Jolt.

  • avatar

    I guess he’s trying to recreate the rousing success of Chrysler’s attempt to spin SRT as a separate brand.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Pontiac and Oldsmobile should be revived before anyone attempts to make Corvette its own brand.

    I would kill for them to make a Rocket 88 with V8 power, either as a two door or a four door (RWD with optional AWD).

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Seriously?! Do I have to come down there and start handing out ass-whoopings? Spin-off Camaro all you want, the Corvette is a yellow, Lemans winning monster, nothing less.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    Once there’s a midengine Vette sold alongside a front engine Vette, then the Corvette name has become a ‘brand’ with two models.

  • avatar

    I thought the Putz was discredited here long ago.

  • avatar
    Caboose

    I think OMP has it. If Corvette was made a brand, and introduced a Cayenne-fighter and a Panamera-fighter, there are sales for those vehicles. Enough to save Porsche; enough to support a small, focussed hi-po brand.

    You could brand the trims, too. If the regular ‘Vette, the SUV, and the sedan all got Base, GS, and Z06 trims/engines, there’s all you need to make money.

  • avatar

    Bob knows so much about driving that he helped steer GM into Bankruptcy. he was an epic fail so save the accolades. leave Corvette alone. if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  • avatar
    Sam Hall

    I can see this working the way Lutz described it; I just can’t see GM really doing it that way. If you made a Corvette SUV, strictly adhering to established Corvette styling and using only the Corvette engine, you could replicate what Porsche did with the Cayenne. And if that worked, maybe–maybe–you could move on to a sedan (I assume Bob meant ‘front-mid’ engine a la the Infiniti G37), also using only Corvette V8s and styling cues.

    But… GM would never stick to the plan. The SUV would be a restyled Tahoe with a V-6 base model, and within a few years there would be a front-drive sedan, and then the brand would be dead.

  • avatar
    Edsel Maserati

    How about a Camaro SUV? Who says the Camaro has to be just one car? Take that tremendous chassis and put a different skin on it.

    For some reason this notion would be ridiculous for Mustang, but I can see it for Camaro.

    What I’d LIKE to see is the Camaro foundation in a different package, something crafted for adults who normally shop German. The present Camaro, with its idiotic sightlines, has such a limited audience. How about a grown-up car? Even if, of course, it clashed with Cadillac.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I agree with him. Escalade should be its own brand too. Prius should be a separate brand for Toyota too.

    I tell you hwut…. I see Corvette as a more viable brand than Cadillac, at least on the passenger car side.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    …And I think Bob Lutz should stick to running VLF into the ground before (finally) retiring. He’s earned it.

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