Keeping the C8 Corvette a Chevy Comes at a Price, and GM CEO Mary Barra Is OK With That

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It’s not enough that the new mid-engine C8 Corvette had to be a driving and engineering accomplishment; it had to do so at a price that befits the Chevrolet brand.

The base price will increase for the 2021 model year. But don’t expect a $20,000 jump. When you wear the Bow Tie, there are expectations of affordability.

We asked Mary Barra, the chairman and CEO of General Motors, if a low starting price can be maintained or if the price is likely to jump, especially if demand is strong.

“It’ll depend on how people content it,” Barra said in an exclusive interview with MotorTrend. The C8 Stingray Z51 3LT we tested for Car of the Year stickered at $88,305.

“What I think is really important is Chevrolet is a home for Corvette and Chevrolet is American, and it’s value, it’s ingenuity,” Barra said. “I think all of that is captured.” Corvette, despite being an iconic sports car, “represents all that Chevrolet means, and part of that is, I think, that it is obtainable. So I think we will work really hard to make sure that we always live true to the Chevrolet brand, which is American, it’s value, it’s ingenuity.”

Did the team debate keeping the front-engine C7 as the affordable entry Corvette and add the C8 as a more premium model?

No, Barra said. “I think as we looked at it, we stepped back, and I think Tadge [Juechter, Corvette chief engineer] probably said it best when he said we had really taken the C7, that architecture style, as far as we could go without going to mid-engine. So it was time, and it was a huge investment, but it was something we really believed in. We believed it was important for the Chevrolet brand, for the Corvette franchise itself.

What about making Corvette its own brand or a subbrand like Ford is doing with Mustang?

“I think you have to be really careful because you have to understand what makes the brand the brand,” Barra told us. “So I’m not going to say never, but I think if General Motors were to ever do anything, we would assess it very, very carefully.

“Corvette means something so special to so many people,” Barra continued. It must be managed carefully because it is so important to its long-term success that it lives up to the name.

“I really think that the Corvette pulls together and represents what the product development and marketing teams are capable of, truly understanding the customer and creating a leading vehicle that’s still affordable,” Barra said. “I can’t wait until they’re in customer hands.”

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