GM is considering expanding the Corvette into a family of vehicles, with the first new vehicle being an all-electric crossover SUV with Corvette branding, according to a report by Bloomberg. If GM does go through with the plan, the electric Corvette SUV wouldn’t hit the road until at least 2025.
This would be a first for the Corvette, which has always existed as a single sportscar model. GM designers are reportedly working on several concepts to expand from one model into a whole line of vehicles. Internally, the effort is being referred to as “Project R.”
The idea to expand the Corvette line has been kicked around for about 20 years, according to the report, but GM has never acted on it and produced any concept models.
Separately, GM is also working on an electrified powertrain for their traditional Corvette sportscar model. Details are scarce, but the company has filed for the trademark “E-Ray,” and we can expect some sort of electric or hybrid Corvette to come out of it. Corvette’s latest 8th generation “C8” model has received praise for delivering impressive specs for a much more reasonable price than similarly performing vehicles. But other performance vehicles are rapidly moving toward hybrid or all-electric operation, and we can’t imagine Corvette will be that far behind.
There is also another company, Genovation, working on a Corvette-based electric supercar. This car has gotten a mention from President-elect Joe Biden, who is a Corvette fan himself and has committed to putting more electric cars on the road during his tenure.
Corvette wouldn’t be the first American muscle car brand to add an electric crossover. Ford is just about to start deliveries of its Mustang Mach E, a performance-oriented crossover with Mustang styling and branding. The car has inspired controversy, attracting many due to its good looks and view toward the future, but many traditionalists are annoyed at the use of the Mustang name for a small SUV.
But that controversy has manifested in a high mindshare for the vehicle and commensurately high levels of preorders. The high level of interest seems to have gotten GM thinking about making a similar move.
Complaints from “purists” haven’t stopped other classic sportscar brands from moving to SUVs or electric models, generally to high praise. Porsche sees massive sales of its Cayenne and Macan SUV models, and its electric Taycan has been called “the best Porsche ever.”
Other manufacturers have been adding SUVs to their lineup due to their popularity with consumers. This increased popularity of SUVs (and ridiculous emissions rules rollback attempts) has led to lower fleet fuel efficiency and higher emissions in model year 2019, reversing a long trend.
Electric crossovers could help mitigate the climate impact of consumer preference for larger vehicles. While the swapping of sedans for SUVs is a bad thing for emissions, if those SUVs are electric, then there will still be a huge improvement.
GM has big plans for electric cars. They have been hyping up their “Ultium” battery platform that should allow the migration of many different models to electric drive. GM has committed to delivering 30 new EV models by 2025, though we’ve heard similar promises before that have been broken.
As of today, GM still only sells one electric car despite years of big talk about upcoming models. They also originally joined a lawsuit against California, with GM seeking lower emissions standards that would kill Americans and cost them money. GM remained part of that lawsuit for about a year before pulling out after the 2020 election results came in (what strangely coincidental timing).
If GM’s big talk about electric cars is to be believed, they are positioning themselves well for an electric future. An electric shift for the Corvette brand would be another signal that GM is serious about the future, though a 2025+ timeline is mild, to say the least.
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