Return of the Stingray: The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette
The 2014 Corvette Stingray is the most powerful standard model ever, with an estimated 450 horsepower (335 kW) and 450 lb.-ft. of torque (610 Nm). It is also the most capable standard model ever, able to accelerate from 0-60 in less than four seconds and achieve more than 1g in cornering grip. It is expected to be the most fuel-efficient Corvette, exceeding the EPA-estimated 26 mpg of the current model.
“Like the ’63 Sting Ray, the best Corvettes embodied performance leadership, delivering cutting-edge technologies, breathtaking design and awe-inspiring driving experiences,” said General Motors North America President Mark Reuss. “The all-new Corvette goes farther than ever, thanks to today’s advancements in design, technology and engineering.”
The all-new Corvette Stingray shares only two parts with the previous generation Corvette. It incorporates an all-new frame structure and chassis, a new powertrain and supporting technologies, as well as completely new exterior and interior designs. Highlights include:
The new Corvette Stingray will be built at GM’s Bowling Green, Ky., assembly plant, which underwent a $131-million upgrade, including approximately $52 million for a new body shop to manufacture the aluminum frame in-house for the first time.
“We believe the Corvette represents the future of modern performance cars because it delivers more power, more driving excitement and better fuel efficiency,” said Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer. “The result is better performance by every measure. The 2014 Corvette delivers the fastest acceleration, the most cornering grip, the most track capability, the best braking performance and what we expect to be the best fuel economy ever for a standard Corvette.”
The 2014 Corvette Stingray coupe goes on sale in the third quarter of 2013.
The company’s market share last year fell 1.7 percentage points to 17.9 percent, according to Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey-based Autodata Corp. That was the lowest since 1924, Alfred P. Sloan’s first full year running the automaker. GM lost share as some competitors such as Toyota Motor Corp. rebounded from reduced production caused by natural disasters in Asia.
Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson took a personal interest in the Corvette revamp, said Ed Welburn, Detroit-based GM’s vice president for global design. The most noticeable exterior design change is to the rear of the car, Welburn said in an interview last week.
In a meeting early in Akerson’s tenure, the CEO complained about how the back end of the current Corvette “was just chopped off,” Welburn said.
“It was done for aero at the sacrifice of design,”Welburn said. “The new Corvette has got even better aero with no scarify in design.”
“He immediately walked around to the rear and he stood there with a big smile on this face,” Welburn said. “And that’s been his favorite area of the car ever since.”
Akerson told reporters last week that the new Corvette “is one of the most beautiful cars I think this company has ever made. It’ll be one of the most beautiful cars ever made.”
The Corvette’s interior also got a major overhaul. Analysts, such as Dave Sullivan of Tustin, California-based consulting firm AutoPacific Inc., had criticized the current model’s interior as lacking, especially for a car with starting prices of almost $50,000.
“The interior is probably the single most upgraded area of the car,” Juechter said.
In the jetlike, wraparound cockpit, GM offers premium materials such as Napa leather, carbon fiber and micro-suede. The size of the steering wheel was reduced, to give it more of a race-car feel. The seats are made of magnesium for improved strength and reduced weight.
The new 6.2-liter V-8 engine provides 450 horsepower, the most powerful ever for the sports car and the quickest, able to accelerate from zero to 60 miles (97 kilometers) per hour in fewer than four seconds, the automaker said. Fuel efficiency also reaches a record of more than 26 miles per gallon in highway driving, GM said.
Engineers used a new aluminum frame that is 57 percent stiffer while being 99 pounds (45 kilograms) lighter than the current steel version, according to the company.
GM hasn’t disclosed pricing on the redesigned Corvette. The 2013 versions have starting prices ranging from $49,600 to $111,600, according to the company’s website.
Corvette U.S. sales last year rose 7.4 percent to 14,132, while Chevrolet’s total was up 4.3 percent. GM reported a 3.7 percent gain, trailing the industry’s 13 percent increase.
Juechter recalled officials of the Treasury and Obama’s auto task force as curious about the Corvette redesign and having an “open mind” about going forward with it.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do it without” government approval, he said. “They saw the value the car brings to Chevrolet, to General Motors and, frankly, just a business proposition. They saw it as a good investment.”
GM's senior management ultimately made all product decisions, Harry Wilson, a former member of Obama's task force, said last week in an e-mail.
``While a number of us on the task force felt the Corvette was a compelling car, our support for it was driven by the quality, market appeal, brand value and product-level profitability of the car itself, not any personal sentiment,'' he said. ``It was (and is) a compelling product for General Motors.''
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