Cadillac version also probably on the way
As elusive and mythical as Big Foot, the fabled mid-engine Corvette has been rumored to be on the horizon for years. But this time, the rumors are probably true. A new report from The Detroit News fuels the speculation, saying the car will arrive by 2019.
The report cites unnamed sources familiar with GM’s plans, who said the mid-engine Corvette C8, codenamed “Emperor,” will debut in early 2018. The front-engine C7 Corvette Z06 and Grand Sport models will continue to be sold through 2021. The News says that eventually the Chevrolet Corvette will be mid-engine only, but we believe a front-engine Corvette will continue to be available to keep the nameplate accessible to the average American.
“It’s happening. Mark Reuss wants it,” one source said. “It’s the worst-kept secret in town.”
Based on trademark filings from 2014, we think the mid-engine Corvette will wear the “Zora” moniker, after the father of the ‘Vette Zora Arkus-Duntov. Placing the engine aft of the cockpit would completely change the Corvette’s handling characteristics, and would place the Corvette Zora in the company of the Ford GT and Ferrari 488 GTB. The car could also pack a performance hybrid system like the Acura NSX and Porsche 918. That’s one theory former GM head of product development Bob Lutz stands behind. Lutz believes the C8’s 2018 debut means the engineers have been busy working electrification into the equation. The high-profile auto industry personality speculates the mid-engine Corvette will offer “10- to 15-mile plug-in electric capability.”
“That would only require a 5-kWh battery, or $1,300 USD at today’s lithium-ion prices (plus motors and hardware),” Lutz told The News in an email. “It would be enough to give it a 50 mpg (4.7 L/100km) city label, and the electric motors at the front would enable limited AWD capability.”
Mid-engine Corvette development won’t just benefit the new Zora. We asked Cadillac CEO Johan de Nysschen last year if a ‘Vette-based Caddy was in the cards and his response was, “It has to be one of the options that we consider.” If Lutz’ hunch is correct, Cadillac has more than just considered it.
GM recently announced plant investments that include an $800 million USD cash injection into the Bowling Green Assembly plant in Kentucky, where the Corvette is built. That’s close to the amount that was sought for Bowling Green in 2007, when the mid-engine Corvette was first greenlit before being shelved due to the bankruptcy.
“The program I got approved in ’07 was $900 million USD,” Lutz said, “and included a Cadillac XLR with a supercharged Northstar engine. If the current program is $800 million USD, I’d bet it includes a different-bodied Cadillac again as well.”
Source: The Detroit News