Home » Corvette Is Reportedly Going To Become A Brand With A Sedan And Crossover

Corvette Is Reportedly Going To Become A Brand With A Sedan And Crossover

Vettesedan Top

We have a big move from Corvette, some interesting news from Honda, an unsurprising achievement for BYD, and President Biden using the word “folks.” Hold on to your hats!

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

Corvette Will Possibly Become Its Own Sub-Brand

Corvette Coupe

The big news that has the car world all atwitter is that GM is apparently going to launch two new vehicles under a Corvette badge that becomes its own standalone brand. Those vehicles are said to be a four-door electric sedan (they call a “coupe”) and an electric crossover. Our best source for this is an extremely detailed rreport from Car And Driver:

A source who has seen the first proposals describes them as “copies of nothing” and as “encapsulated emotional purity.” Waxing lyrical may do justice to the styling themes, but what about the bespoke content? The mechanical package apparently includes battery packs with high energy density, superfast software, a patented cooling concept, staggered Lego-like topographic packaging, miniaturized componentry, ultra-efficient inverters, high-revving electric motors, an 800-volt electrical system that provides up to 350 kW of charging power, a two-speed transmission, brake-by-wire, multi-mode four-wheel steering, and torque vectoring.

Technical details aside, this feels awfully like a very intentional leak of information to try to test the waters for this move, which is classic GM. I only say that because the source talks in complete marketing nonsense dynamicspeak:

“Corvette is not just a brand. It’s a constantly evolving system paired with a dramatically different user experience.”

And

“The aim is not to beat Taycan and Cayenne at their own game but to create three American legends capable of breaking new ground by making the essence of Corvette scalable. To do so, that essence must at all times be in a state of progressive flux.

Who talks like that?

This isn’t to denigrate the good reporting/scoop from C/D as I’d have given one of David’s rusty nuts to have this info first. It’s entirely possible that this is just a leak and somewhere Mary Barra is ordering her stealthy assassins to bury this person’s body underneath Belle Isle.

Buuut… “the essence must at all times be in a state of progressive flux” is quite the random sentence to just come up with when talking to a reporter.

[Editor’s Note: I realize that the “source” mentions Porsche, but it’s hard for me to see this as something not aimed at Tesla. When Ford launched its Mustang Mach-E electric crossover, it freely admitted that it needed to borrow its strongest brand to compete with the herculean Tesla brand. I wouldn’t be surprised if GM is thinking along the same lines. Cadillac ain’t what it used to be. -DT]

Honda To Build Hydrogen Fuel Cell CR-V In Ohio

Fcevclarity

The brands love hydrogen! The people… unclear. Nevertheless, Honda is trying to get in again on the Hydrogen game with a CR-V-based Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) build in the same Ohio plant that’s been responsible for the very mid Acura NSX. The difference is that this is a Plug-In FCEV or, I guess, a PIFCEV?

Here’s the press release and the key point:

The new CR-V-based FCEV also will mark North America’s first production vehicle to combine a plug-in feature with FCEV technology in one model, which enables the driver to charge the onboard battery to deliver EV driving around town with the flexibility of fast hydrogen refueling for longer trips.

I don’t hate this idea. You’ve got an EV for around town that gets 150-200 miles of range you can charge at home. If you want to drive 300-400 miles you can go to a hydrogen fueling station (probably on the highway) and top off.

Npms Gasline Map 1024x791

Above is a map of natural gas transmission lines within the United States. The most popular way to make hydrogen in the United States is through a process called “natural gas reforming” you can read about here. Placing hydrogen filling stations around interstate hubs with access to compressed natural gas isn’t the worst idea.

Of course, you run into the problem of carrying around all this excess capacity and weight for this hybrid system, but perhaps Honda has found a way to make it smaller? The outgoing Honda Clarity was an EV, a PHEV, and an FCEV but never a PIFCEV. Right? Honda is so confusing. Please don’t name this the CR-V Clarity.

Also, please enjoy that Honda called a car “Clarity” and it’s the single most confusing product launched in the last decade.

President Biden Is Serious About This Chip Thing

Joe Biden

As weird as this is to write, the future of the Democratic Party is the industrial Midwest. Both Michigan and Pennsylvania went strongly blue this cycle, defying conventional wisdom. It’s no surprise, then, that President Joe Biden has spent a lot of time in Michigan touting the car industry.

I think this Detroit News headline pretty much sums it up: “Biden in Michigan: US won’t be ‘held hostage’ in chips supply.”

Here are some highlights from that speech:

I come from the corporate capital of the world. There are more corporations incorporated in Delaware than every other state in the union combined. And guess what? A lot of businesses got greedy, go to the cheap labor overseas.

Well, now we’re sending good products overseas made by first-class labor. (Applause.)

Folks, as a result, today we’re down to producing only around 10 percent of the world’s chips despite leading the world in research and design of new chip technology.

Why does this matter? I had a long meeting with Xi Jinping at the G20. We have met for over 80 hours over the last 10 years. We know each other well. And he’s a little upset that we’re deciding we’re going to, once again, be — you know, and so are our European friends. They’re talking about the supply chain. We’re going to be the supply chain. And the difference is going to be we’re going to make that supply chain available to the rest of the world, but we’re not going to be held hostage anymore. (Applause.) I mean it.

One of the key tells that something important is about to happen in a Biden speech is that he uses the word “folks.” It’s like when Astros pitcher Luis Garcia rocks the baby. You know the heat is coming!

This isn’t entirely empty rhetoric, of course, because both the Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPS And Science Act were both passed and they:

  1. Encourage automakers to shift their EV supply chain to the Unites States.
  2. Provide about $50 billion to shift chipmaking here.

BYD Was China’s Biggest Brand In November

Byd Tmd

I’ve tried to prep you all for this moment. Please go back and read everything under the BYD tag on this website. And then read this report from Automotive News Europe, which lays out how Chinese automaker BYD has taken the Chinese sales crown.

Retail sales for BYD rose by 83 percent to 152,863 vehicles from Nov. 1 to Nov. 27 compared to the same period a year earlier, according to data from China Merchants Bank International (CMBI).

BYD’s tally was higher than VW’s retail sales of 143,602 and Toyota’s, which were 0.3 percent and 0.5 percent lower, respectively.

Technically, when you add Audi to VW’s score it still has VW Group as the largest automaker in China, but that’s cold comfort. The country is dealing with COVID protests and great economic insecurity and not reacting well to it.

Chaos is a ladder, of course, and who loves chaos more than Elon Musk? Tesla also doubled its sales compared to October when the company was allegedly dealing with supply issues. It’s important to note that BYD has raised prices while Tesla has increased incentives and cut prices.

The Flush

No one, it turns out, actually cares that the Mustang Mach E is called a Mustang. Will anyone care about Corvette being a sedan?

Photos: Jason Torchinsky, GM, The White House, BYD, Honda

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83 Responses

  1. Technically, this is the second time they’ve turned Corvette into its own marque – Bob Lutz had it split off as a separate nameplate under GM Europe for several years, due to the belief that the Chevrolet brand in Europe had become too closely associated with rebadged Daewoos

    1. “due to the belief that the Chevrolet brand in Europe had become too closely associated with rebadged Daewoos”

      Probably due to all the years they sold rebadged Daewoos…

  2. Placing hydrogen filling stations around interstate hubs with access to compressed natural gas isn’t the worst idea.

    Or – bear with me here – you could just ditch the $%#^&%$& hydrogen altogether and just burn the NG directly in an ICE powered PHEV. The ICE isn’t as efficient as the fuel cell but there would be no losses in converting NG to H2 so that makes up the losses a bit.

    Additionally ICE are cheaper, need no precious metals to manufacture and may be more compact than the fuel cell. You’d get at least twice as far on the same volume of gas as well.

    I know, crazy right?

    1. There are manufacturers of Natural Gas Fuel Cells. So why bother with hydrogen conversion except to make the powerplant carbon-free? By the same token, there’s some researchers that are working on Ammonia Fuel Cells, which are carbon-free, and nitrogen is abundant in the atmosphere anyway.

    2. And, ICE engines run on natural gas are much cleaner and last way longer than those fed gasoline. At least that’s what I gathered while working at a company decades ago which ran 80s Ford trucks on it. There was a small drop in power when switching from gasoline to LNG, but otherwise you couldn’t tell. Well, except for the large potential bomb at the front of the bed

    3. What if we burned that natural gas in a much larger facility, to take advantage of economies of scale, and used it to generate electricity? Then we could somehow contrive a way to store the electrical energy produced inside the car instead of a CNG tank – oh wait

    4. “Makes up for losses a bit” is about as much of an understatement as you’ll find anywhere on this site.

      Hydrogen has become a fuel for the stupid. It takes a lot of energy or fossil fuel to produce, takes a lot of energy and time to compress and store, disappears from most holding containers within a month or two, and embrittles materials it comes in contact with. It’s hugely expensive to produce, contain and use as a transportation fuel, or even use as energy storage in general.

      Promoted as a pollution free alternative fuel mostly by oil companies and naive scientists, it’s embraced by naive politicians who support it with subsidies in hope that someone will find a miracle to solve all its drawbacks. It’s going to take many more decades before the dead ends of hydrogen as a fuel become obvious enough to get the subsidies dropped, so expect to see a lot hype about hydrogen but never any cost effective products.

      1. What PaysOutAllNight said!
        Hydrogen might make sense for Iceland as they could get the energy needed to produce it from natural gas from geothermal, and there are probably other cases where it makes sense in a small market, but I otherwise see it as a very poor idea. The infrastructure will be hugely expensive, and the inevitable accidents spectacular for no actual gain in energy supply.

    5. Caveat – with direct ICE usage of natural gas you don’t get to control where the emissions are generated. At least with H2 the emissions are all where you create the H2 / get input materials.

  3. “Those vehicles are said to be a four-door electric sedan (they call a “coupe”) and an electric crossover.”

    NOPE.
    NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE. NOPE.JPG. NOPE.
    Good job GM! You just instantiated the justified howling AND you’re launching a faux-sporting high dollar brand into a recession!
    We really should have let them go bankrupt financially, since they’re already bankrupt morally and ethically. (Repeatedly hiding defects that got people killed, and then fighting recalls over saidsame defects means they are morally and ethically bankrupt as an objective fact.)

    “The new CR-V-based FCEV also will mark North America’s first production vehicle to combine a plug-in feature with FCEV technology in one model, which enables the driver to charge the onboard battery to deliver EV driving around town with the flexibility of fast hydrogen refueling for longer trips.”

    Great. Now are you going to build any goddamn hydrogen stations in Ohio, land where once upon a time, we had little trouble finding CNG at the pump?
    No?
    Then honestly why are you even bothering?

    “I think this Detroit News headline pretty much sums it up: “Biden in Michigan: US won’t be ‘held hostage’ in chips supply.””

    …. yanno, maybe I should just write you guys a whole article on why this entire premise is pure bullshit. The TL;DR is that the US has plenty of silicon fab and zero wafer fab, silicon fab plants take 6+ years and billions of dollars to build, and wafer plants take 8+ years and even more money.
    Even if we said “fuck it, we’re gonna make the CMOS (old process) parts like MOSFETs here again,” guess what? We did make them here. We didn’t ship it overseas because of cheap labor; we shipped it overseas because of environmental regulations. Fabrication produces mountains of highly toxic chemicals, and requires millions of gallons of water a day (which, by the way, we do not have in the arid climes that are most appropriate for fabrication. See also Lake fucking Mead.)
    And it would STILL take 8+ years and billions of dollars to spin up a plant. Because guess what? Only a few companies make the highly specialized equipment, it’s built to spec only, and even if it wasn’t, the only time their order books haven’t been full for 3+ years was the DRAM crash.

    “No one, it turns out, actually cares that the Mustang Mach E is called a Mustang. Will anyone care about Corvette being a sedan?”

    Yes. Absolutely yes. Do I care? Doesn’t matter. The core demographic of Corvette buyers does though, and they are absolutely fucking howling about it. They are livid. And the points they are making are beyond valid.

    GM has been beyond protective of Corvette as a special, unique, specific car. Buick got their hands chopped off (quite literally huge amounts of resources, staff, and money were taken away from them) because the Grand National dared to best it. No car at GM was allowed to beat a Corvette, a policy that has been in force and enforced for 70 years.
    That’s not the fanbase saying these things. That’s GM. They’re the ones who set it up that way, they’re the ones who insisted it remain that way, they’re the ones who lost their shit anytime anyone dared take the Corvette off it’s sacrosanct pedestal.

    And now they pull this – in a recession no less – and expect everyone to just go “oh that’s cool”? Everyone involved should be fired for cause. Five minutes of checking the company history would tell you doing this would at best get you branded as the dumbest executive at GM, ever.

    1. You write that article and I’m gonna read it. As for Corvette branching out? Naw, piss poor idea. Just create a new brand with a fresh name. Don’t trot out Saturn or Pontiac & especially Oldsmobile from the graveyard. Perhaps name it after a star or somesuch. Or mebbe a famous scientist….The Sagan? Neymobile?

    2. And now they pull this – in a recession no less – and expect everyone to just go “oh that’s cool”?

      Honestly I think they’re doing it FOR the outrage. It’s free press. The Mach-E would have been one of many electric crossovers but the Mustang Mach-E was such a roaring debate that we still talk about how big of a shitstorm it was.

      Honestly as long as we get PHEV and EV C8 Corvettes, I don’t really care much. I maintain that the Mach-E wouldn’t have been as bad a PR move if they had launched an electrified-but-otherwise-same Mustang first and then the Mach-E second.

      1. Attribute not to malice what can be more accurately attributed to gross incompetence.

        Which is a nice way to say that GM’s executives are so braindead, they saw the Mustang Mach-E and said “hey we can do that” without actually thinking about the repercussions. The adage that ‘all press is good press’ has never been true (see also: Twitter’s death spiral.)

        And it also ignores the fact that Mustang has always been a total shitshow at Ford. It’s a pony car, no it’s a muscle car, no it’s a high-styled commuter car, no it’s a pony car, no it’s a technology showcase, no it’s a muscle car… the Mustang has never had the consistent brand identity that people think it has. The only consistent part has been Mustang.
        Hell, the Mustang’s never even had consistent portfolio positioning. The Mustang was supposed to compete against the Camaro, the Mustang II against the Datsun 240Z. It’s always been a car in perpetual identity crisis as Ford tried to reproduce Iacocca’s magic. Is it the V6 powered drop-top cruiser or the 500HP quarter-mile-at-a-time bruiser? (Ford keeps answering ‘yes.’)

        Corvette on the other hand has always meant exactly one thing and one thing alone: front engine, rear-wheel drive, 2 doors sportscar, and the fastest car on your GM dealer’s lot period. It has never in it’s existence been anything else. They could (mostly) get away with the C8 for one reason alone: it was still a rear-wheel drive, 2 door, loud exhaust sportscar that was recognizably a Corvette, and remained the tippy top of all GM sportscar offerings with no equal or better.
        Muddying those waters in any way whatsoever has absolutely no upsides whatsoever. Damages the Corvette brand, damages the GM brand, damages confidence, damages reputation, and infuriates a die-hard fanbase.

        1. I’ll start out by saying that I agree wholeheartedly with you on the “actual” Mustang. It’s always been a confusing car.

          As far as the bottom section about the Vette…nah. It certainly hasn’t hurt Porche/Lambo/Bentley/RR to make an SUV and if GM wants to split off the Vette into its own division, it’s gonna need some high-volume sales to pay the bills outside of the “actual” Vette. We haven’t seen how they are gonna put the whole thing in motion yet (har, har) and no one really knows what the EV market/tech is gonna even be in 3 years. Even so, I’d be willing to bet that, if done properly, a Vette SUV would sell 25-30k units in the first year in just MI, FL, and TX alone. Nobody is gonna give a shit that it “tarnishes” the C8/C9 as long as there is more money coming in to advance it. Times are changing.

      2. The outrage will be long gone by the time they are in a position to gain a dollar from it.

        Of course, the extra consumer funds to pay extra for a ‘vette-branded offering of some other GM vehicle will also be long gone.

    3. Loud screams were worldwide when Porsche brought out a ficking SUV. And then a sedan, and then another SUV. They made so much lucre that they almost bought VW for heavens sake. So the screamers, probably guys my age and weight can just go pop that blood vessel, I would love to see a Corvette shooting brake and hell even an SUV, but I have no idea what that SUV would look like.

      1. Yes, but what people do not understand is that always has been and always will be fundamentally different.

        Porsche has spent years building up their reputation and image as ‘we make sporty cars.’ Not ‘we make the 911.’ People whined because it was VW-based, it was an SUV, and they didn’t believe it could be ‘sporty.’
        Then it was good, Porsche sold an absolute fuckload of them, and everyone shut up. And they were already making the Boxster and Cayman in addition to the 911. Nobody gives a shit if their Porsche is built in Zuffenhausen or Leipzig or Malaysia. They care that it’s a Porsche.

        But Corvette is Corvette. It is a single model, made to a specific recipe, with a specific heritage, very specific rules, and GM spent 70 years not letting anyone forget a word of it. It’s only a Corvette if it’s from the Bowling Green region of Kentucky; otherwise it’s just fake!
        You cannot just take 70 years of building an entire brand around “this is Corvette and absolutely nothing about this may change for any reason” and say “oh and now it’s CUVs too.” That is not how it works. That’s first year marketing shit. If you’ve spent SEVEN DECADES defining something that precisely, that exactly, that rigidly? Then no, you cannot just turn around and say “oh and now it’s X.”
        Because what you have done there is literally throw away every penny spent on building up that mystique and history and pedigree. You have made the brand identity utterly immutable without burning cash, reputation, goodwill, or all four of them. (GM’s going for option D.)

        Porsche absolutely did no such thing like that, ever. (I mean, they tried to in the 70’s, but that guy got fired so it’s cool.) When they launched the 928, they did not say “oh and now the 911 is this.” They said “it’s not a 911 but it’s still a Porsche.” Same with the Boxster, same with the Cayenne, and so on. The brand identity is Porsche.

        Corvette? It is a high performance, rear wheel drive, 2 door sports coupe, with specific styling cues, made only in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Period. That’s what Corvette is. It’s mid-life crisis dads in khaki shorts drinking Bud Lites in lawnchairs at cruise-ins. It’s a pointed nose and a squared rear end. Because that’s what GM carved into granite, more than one million times by 1992, and then ANOTHER million times on top of that. (They sold a LOT of C4-C7’s.)
        You literally cannot change a single piece of that (except the mid-life crisis dads) without diluting, damaging, or ruining the Corvette brand. And that’s not just my opinion – that’s how GM’s treated it the whole time.

    4. I dont know the full story because i only now looked it up ,but apparently the USA *is* throwing money at new fabs.The first comes online in 2024.
      Naturally they’ll need to be subsidized for their entire life. It has to be done though.
      If (sorry *WHEN*) China takes over Taiwan they will control the worlds most important chip maker so this move by the USA is incredibly important

      1. If China attempts to take over Taiwan, do not be surprised if it plays out similarly to the Russia-Ukraine situation…. with the difference being Taiwan being *more* prepared than Ukraine was in 2014.

  4. I don’t really care about Corvettes, though I think it’s silly to make Corvette a brand and then sell a sedan and and crossover under it, especially since GM has other brands that could handle this. I also don’t like the current trend of ignoring the fact that words, like coupe, have an actual meaning. I get that language evolves, but I would prefer it to evolve to make things more clear rather than less clear. I know I will lose this battle, so I should get over it

  5. I honestly believe that tons of people don’t like the Mustang name on the Mach E. But we grumble, pick up the shattered pieces of our lives and move on. It’s their name and they can attach it to anything they want to. Same with the Corvette name. You own it, bastardize it as you see fit.

  6. Maybe the Corvette thing is good news.

    If they can sell a sedan to my great uncle Mr. Chromewheels Limpnoodle, maybe they can bring back the manual transmission in the sports cars its aging customers can no longer climb into.

  7. Placing hydrogen filling stations around interstate hubs with access to compressed natural gas isn’t the worst idea.

    Or – bear with me here – you could just ditch the $%#^&%$& hydrogen altogether and just burn the NG directly in an ICE powered PHEV. The ICE isn’t as efficient as the fuel cell but there would be no losses in converting NG to H2 so that makes up the losses a bit.

    Additionally ICE are cheaper, need no precious metals to manufacture and may be more compact than the fuel cell. You’d get at much further on the same tank volume as well.

    I know, crazy right?

    1. The nice thing about a fuel-cell hybrid is that you’re using the same motors and have a simpler drive train, rather than the weight of a combustion engine and enough gearing for two different torque curves.

  8. Corvette as a brand? GM can put whatever name plate they want on a product. If it’s good, it’ll sell.

    Badge engineering these days is mostly about two entirely different things:

    Controlling the sales channel to produce additional profit for the master corporation by redefining the dealership networks. Specifically, changing who is eligible to sell each newly created product, and under what conditions. This is used to seek ways that benefit GM as a whole more than the current dealership agreements.

    Badge engineering is also the more obvious matter of cashing in on the equity people associate with specific words.

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