They Say No News Is Good News…We’re Not So Sure When It Comes to the Mid-Engine Corvette
You’ve heard us say it countless times over the past year – despite overwhelming evidence supporting its “alleged” existence, GM has yet to officially recognize that they are developing a mid-engine Corvette.
We’ve seen the pics. We’ve watched the videos. We know that there is an American-made mid-engine sports car out there that has been spotted perusing streets and test tracks across this great nation. We know – or at least think we know – that there’s both a mid-engine production Corvette and a mid-engine Corvette race car under development….and from the looks of things, both version of the car look like a finished product.
But here’s the rub – GM has officially announced that the C7.R Corvette will return once more for the 2019 IMSA season. Even more surprising is the news that there will be no mid-engine Corvette unveiled at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in January, 2019.
Now its a reasonable assumption that the arrival of a mid-engine C8.R Corvette race car would follow the unveiling of the mid-engine production Corvette. Homologation regulations clearly state that a specific number of production cars must be built before a race car can be sanctioned for competition.
So why has the mid-engine Corvette race car been spotted testing at multiple racetracks over the past year?
There are a couple possible answers.
- It has been the standard practice during development of the C6 and C7 that Corvette engineers developed both the production and race cars simultaneously. The “technology transfer” between the two results in better performance and considerable cost savings when producing both variants of the car simultaneously.
- Since the C8.R (we assume that will be its official designation at some point) is essentially complete, early testing gives the Corvette Racing program the opportunity to begin refining/dialing-in the race car well in advance of actual competition during future racing seasons.
As for the unveiling of the production Corvette?
Although it comes as a surprise that the mid-engine Corvette will be absent at the 2019 NAIAS, it is important to remember that the 2019 Corvette ZR1 was first unveiled in November, 2017 at the Dubai Auto Show and NOT at the NAIAS show at the start of that year. However, the Dubai unveiling still happened nearly a year in-advance of the ZR1 beginning production in Bowling Green.
As it relates to the next-generation Corvette, it’s possible that GM plans to unveil the Corvette at an international venue later in the year. That’s certainly their prerogative and we’ve got no doubt that, if-and/or-when that time comes, we’ll have lots of marketing from GM leading up to the grand reveal of their mid-engine sports car.
The troubling part of this whole thing is the amount of published information – most of it from reputable sources within the automotive media community – stating that GM was prepping the mid-engine C8 as a 2020 model year vehicle.
To be marketed as a 2020 model, the mid-engine Corvette would normally need to begin production as early as March-April 2019. It’s possible that GM could start production of the C8 later in the year, and introduce the new Corvette as a limited production vehicle in its inaugural year. However, there’s no indication whatsoever that this is going to happen.
It leads us to wonder – is the new mid-engine Corvette in trouble?
Changes In the Wind
Earlier this month, GM shocked the automotive world when it announced that they were closing seven factories worldwide and were cutting more than 14,000 salaried staff and factory workers. They further announced that they planned to discontinue production of several models from their passenger car lineup – including the Chevy Cruze Company and the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid. Instead, they intend to pour money into technologies tied to electric and self-driving cars. The plants, which include two in Michigan, one in Maryland and Ohio, and one in Canada, will be shutdown by the end of 2019.
For fans of the Corvette, the good news (so far) is that Corvette plant in Bowling Green did not feel the impact of these massive cuts across the organization. Surely this means that the research and development being spent on development of the mid-engine Corvette should continue, right? More simply put – the continuation of the Corvette is certain?
This is where the question remains.
As stated above, a spokesperson with Chevrolet has already confirmed the automaker would not be revealing its mid-engine Corvette at the 2019 Detroit Auto show. What’s more significant about that statement is what they didn’t say- specifically, there was no announcement made as to when the Corvette WOULD be revealed. GM did announce that the new 2020 Silverado HD would be unveiled a month after the Detroit-based auto show, and they even stated that it would be built at the assembly plant in Flint, Michigan.
Given the enormous amount of social media hype that has been generated since 2016 indicating Chevrolet was in-development of a mid-engine Corvette, this lack of official news is troubling. The continued silence from GM – especially given all the evidence that a mid-engine Corvette has been developed and (forgive the pun) “vetted” on the open road and the race track – forces us to ponder the possibilities that lie ahead for the brand.