“Life with Stingray” Blog Captures Broad Appeal of C7
When it comes to appeal, the consensus from Detroit to Europe is that the C7 is one of the hottest cars to roll out of General Motors in decades. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of the new Corvette Stingray, it’s tough to argue differently.
Still, to get a better feel for what everyday people think of the car, GM’s head of consumer affairs, James Bell, has launched a project called “Life with Stingray”, which documents his experience with the car and public reaction. I recently had a chance to catch up with Bell, who has logged nearly 4,000 miles in a C7 in Los Angeles, to learn more about the project anchored by the Fastlane.GM.com blog.
Corvette Forum: What prompted the “Life with Stingray” project and what exactly is it about?
Bell: This car is pretty unique … in that it has come in the marketplace just when people are looking at domestic brands a little more optimistically. This car really embodies what a lot of people expect from a Corvette, but it also takes it up a couple of notches. It causes people to stop what they are doing, talk to you and take pictures, which is a similar experience if you were driving around in a Bugatti or a Ferrari, and here we are doing it in a $60,000 Chevy.
It just hit me that this was something that needed to be shared — my day-to-day experiences with it. So what I started doing was capturing moments either in the photographic form, or just in the notes that I take while I’m in the car.
CF: As a journalist before taking the position with GM, you’ve driven a lot of automobiles — some far more expensive and more luxurious than the C7. Why do you think the Stingray has struck such a chord with so many people?
Bell: I think it’s that it strikes people initially as being something exotic that’s worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. And then when they realize it’s a Chevrolet and something they can afford, that’s the big moment. The big difference about this car and why people really get pumped up and want to take pictures with it is because it’s approachable; it’s affordable without being a car that’s only for rich people.
I think another element of it is that it’s an American car. I think for a lot of people this car makes them stand back and say, “Wow, cool, we can still make a car that has that kind of impact.”
CF: What has been the most interesting question you’ve gotten about the car?
Bell: The most common one is how much does it cost because I think people are expecting a much higher price. I have had quite a few people ask me about fuel efficiency, which I didn’t expect … for a car like this.
CF: Have the recalls on the C7 had any impact on the perception of the car?
Bell: I don’t think so. The sales have still been very, very strong not just for the Corvette, but for all of our products. And I think the public has started to pick up on the fact that we have approached recalls in a way that has never been done by General Motors and probably in the industry. Things that would never be recalled in the past, we are now hitting it head-on and addressing it. No matter how big or how small, GM and the industry in general are taking these things much more seriously.
CF: What’s the end goal of “Life with Stingray”?
Bell: One thing is feedback for future vehicles. I spend a lot of time with the engineers and designers, and there are things that maybe I can help out with based on this long-term experience with the car not just from my perspective, but also from other people. For example, the other day I was with somebody in the car and I was showing them how they could change the dashboard with the reconfigurable gauge cluster. They said, “What about the gauges on the side? It would be really cool if you could turn those off.” I didn’t think about that, but it would be cool, so that’s something that I will take back to the company.
CF: What do you think has been one of the biggest things Chevy and GM have learned from the response to the Corvette?
Bell: I think how much attention the interior gets. That’s not something that older Corvette owners were very happy about. That’s a big lesson that the company has really finally learned that the interior of a car in many ways is as important if not more important than the exterior and the driving experience because that’s where people live. I think the response to the interior has really taken us by surprise.
CF: How long do you think the “Life with Stingray” project will last?
Bell: At this point, we’re going to continue it indefinitely. I’m going to mount a camera to the car and start to get some video blogging as well.
To read the “Life with Stingray” blog in full, click here.