Corvette’s Demographic Battle is an Uphill One, with No Guarentees
Corvette buyers aren’t getting any younger. While it’s not expected that 16-year olds go out and buy Corvettes as their first cars, having a buying population that’s generally getting older is a bad thing for a brand. Luring younger people in to buy your car is important. That’s one of the reasons cited for wanting to make the 8th-generation Corvette a mid-engine car. But will it work?
According to Automotive News, the current Corvette situation mimics that of Harley-Davidson not too long ago. Harley-Davidson went to Porsche to help design a water-cooled engine to use on future bikes with a “youth-focused” goal. The problem was that the engine itself didn’t draw in younger buyers. Harley ultimately lowered the average buying age by offering restyled bikes, using air-cooled engines, that aesthetically appealed to a younger generation.
Switching to a mid-engine architecture allows the Corvette to do things it hasn’t been able to do before. The car can be lighter, it can be faster, it can become a competitor for some of the greatest cars in the world.
The problem is that the Corvette, in any form currently, is a pretty good performance car. More performance won’t necessarily bring more sales, except from the pre-existing Corvette buyers. People who want a Porsche aren’t typically going to cross-shop with a Corvette. It’s just not what happens — except in rare occasions.
The next-generation Corvette, no matter what platform it takes, needs to appeal to those millennials that are getting into their 30s. They’re finally starting to get money to spend and GM is in a position to offer them a car to get into the Corvette family without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars.
That’s why I still firmly believe that GM should offer the next Corvette in a variety of performance levels. I’m fine — heck supportive — of a mid-engine car as long as it doesn’t drive up the price of the car. I’d like to see a mid-engine Corvette with the same performance of the current Stingray for roughly the same price.
Switching to mid-engine makes it easier to offer an all-wheel drive. There needs to be an all-wheel drive variant. People want it, plus it’ll help make the performance of the higher-end cars more accessible.
But more importantly than that, there is room for an entry-level model to sit below the Stingray. GM makes some pretty impressive turbocharged 4-cylinder and solid naturally-aspirated V6s. Slapping one of those in a Corvette might be sacrilegious to the faithful, but would help make the car less-expensive — thus more appealing — to younger buyers.
Not all young buyers are poor, though. As Harley-Davidson learned, it’s the design of the bike that’s appealing to the buyer and not the technology. General Motors made some pretty big changes to the 7th-generation of the car, and that did make the car more appealing. Bold designs are important to a sports car, which are typically an emotional purchase and not a rational one.
Chevrolet, if you appeal to our emotions we’ll buy your cars. That’s the key.
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via [Automotive News]