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Old 01-11-2013, 04:44 PM   #1
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GM aims new Corvette beyond successful plumbers - not my title

Quote:
DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- The Chevrolet Corvette, once the coolest of cool rides on Route 66 and the rest of America's roads, has suffered the cruelest of fates: It's known as an old man's toy.

Even the head of Chevy marketing acknowledges that too many people see it as the car of "the successful plumber."

General Motors is determined to change that.

In two days, Chevrolet will unveil the new Corvette, which so far GM has teased as having a sleeker exterior, a bigger engine and a dramatically improved interior.

GM design chief Ed Welburn this week unfurled a poster on a table at his office in suburban Detroit showing images of the remodeled Corvette along with Stingrays from 1959 and 1963.

"I want this image on every kid's wall," he said in advance of the Jan. 13 unveiling of the new car on the eve of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The redesigned Corvette, code-named C7, arrives as one of 13 new Chevrolets that GM is bringing out in the United States this year to update showrooms that have grown full of old models left over from the automaker's 2009 bankruptcy reorganization.

The company needs new products to help stave off declining U.S. market share that reached an 88-year low in 2012.

The challenge for GM's Chevrolet brand is to draw on the strength of Corvette's 60-year heritage as a dream-inspiring racer while overcoming its recent baggage as an afterthought to Volkswagen AG's Audi and Porsche.

GM is betting new styling, improved interiors and marketing efforts, including aiming the car straight at young people through placement in video games, will help.

Boomer brand

"The big thing is bringing people to the brand and bringing a lot of energy to the brand," Welburn said. "People will look a bit differently at Chevrolet if Corvette is an even more relevant vehicle, a vehicle that is very inspiring, that is on the leading edge in so many ways."

While enthusiasm is strong among some Baby Boomers who remember the car from their youth, Welburn said that somewhere along the way Corvette posters fell off the bedroom walls of young people.

He remembered a visit of a friend's son to his garage and seeing his excitement for the Chevy Camaro while ignoring an old Corvette.

"The challenge is that it is thought of as an older person's car," said Jessica Caldwell, an industry analyst with Edmunds.com.


The 1953 Corvette.
About 46 percent of Corvette buyers last year through October were 55 years or older compared with 22 percent of Audi R8 and 30 percent of Porsche 911 customers, according to Edmunds.

Introduced in 1953, Corvette production peaked in 1979 at 53,807, according to GM.

It has been a long time since Buz and Tod toured the U.S. in a Corvette looking for adventure in "Route 66," the early 1960s television show that helped thread the sports car through American culture.

Clouded market

"As time has gone on, the market has become much more clouded; the Corvette doesn't stand out as much anymore as it used to," said Jerry Burton, who has written books on the car.

Last year, U.S. sales of the Corvette, which starts at $49,600, rose 7.4 to 14,132, about a quarter of its peak.

Deliveries of the Porsche 911 Carrera, which starts at $82,100, rose 65 percent to 7,784 while the Audi R8, which starts at $114,200, declined 30 percent to 802.

The importance of those cars goes beyond sales figures. The cool factor for the 911 and the R8 helps lift the image of the entire Porsche and Audi lines, while Corvette has lost that aura.

Chevrolet's 1963 Corvettes
Neglected brand

As GM's business struggled leading up to its 2009 bankruptcy reorganization, Corvette wasn't always a priority.

"We haven't been managing the perception of the brand," Chris Perry, head of Chevrolet marketing in the U.S., said of the 'Vette.

"To hit our sales target, we don't really need to advertise Corvette," Perry said. "There are a lot of people waiting to buy a Corvette, but to help change the perception of Corvette and help change the perception of Chevrolet, we'll definitely be putting some marketing behind it."

On the Internet, Corvette gets lapped by exotic sports car brands.

Corvette's Facebook page had 1 million "likes" on Jan. 10 while Chevrolet as a brand had 1.7 million. Ferrari had 10 million, Porsche had 4.9 million and Audi had 6.2 million.

A separate Facebook page for Audi's R8 has 1.48 million "likes."

Other parts of cyberspace are more harsh.

Google's autofill asks "Is a Corvette an old man's car?" and returns with 2.36 million search results.

When a group of fourth-grade boys at Neinas Elementary School in Detroit talked about cars last month, they wanted to know about the Chevrolet Camaro and exotic brands, such as VW's Bugatti, that they're familiar with from video games.

Only one child mentioned an interest in the Corvette, and he got teased.


The 1958 Corvette heavily influenced by longtime GM designer Chuck Jordan.

Photo credit: GM
'Successful plumber'

"Because of the heritage of Corvette is a little bit more of a Midwest sports car, the successful plumber," Perry said. "That's one of the things we're going to change, especially on the coasts."

In trend-setting cities such as Los Angeles and Miami, he wants the new Corvette to attract attention from buyers in their 30s and 40s making around $150,000 annually, while still appealing to loyalists.

Part of GM's plan to make the car more aspirational to younger people includes promoting the Corvette in video games, Perry said.

GM worked with Sony Corp. to make available in November a camouflaged version of the new Corvette in the popular PlayStation 3 video game "Gran Turismo."

The new version of the Corvette will be available Jan. 14 for the video game, Perry said. The real car reaches showrooms by year's end.

Young man's car

"It's amazing how these young people influence that older group," John Fitzpatrick, Corvette's marketing manager, said in an interview. "It's the old saying, 'Nobody wants to be seen driving an old man's car, but everybody wants to be seen driving a young man's car."'

Corvette's legacy may help it with young people who recognize it as a status car and the redesign should help bump consideration for other Chevrolet models, said Alexander Edwards, president of Strategic Vision's auto division.

"The Corvette is keeping Chevrolet relevant in the minds of Gen Y, even if current communication and product hasn't really spoken to them the way that GM would hope that they would," he said. "It's very important."


The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette will have its world debut in an industrial warehouse near downtown Detroit on Sunday.
Actual driving

Beyond the pixel-race track, the Corvette is designed for real-world performance that actual buyers expect.

While GM hasn't unveiled the new Corvette yet, it has hinted at what's in store.

Designers and engineers sculpted the new car in ways to improve aerodynamics, reducing lift for greater high-speed stability, GM said in a November press release.

"This new car is like Corvette has gone back to the gym and gotten fit," Welburn said this week. "It's like this athlete that has been in training and it is lean, muscular."

GM has promised that the sports car's new 6.2-liter V-8 engine will make it the most powerful standard Corvette ever with 450 horsepower along with being the quickest with a zero to 60 in less than four seconds. All of this while being the most fuel-efficient Corvette to date, better than 26 miles (42 kilometers) per gallon on the highway. "From the marketing standpoint, we have the goods," Perry said. "We have the product that delivers on that aspiration, now we just have to change that perception."

Interior design

Inside, there are hints of improvement as well.

Car & Driver said in its January issue that Corvette's "interior designers blew their budget on cut-and-sewn leather finish materials, a large touch screen, and a suede-wrapped steering wheel."

Dave Sullivan, an industry analyst with consulting firm AutoPacific Inc., has seen drawings and early prototypes of the interior and said the new Corvette should be able to compete "on a global scale."

"One of the biggest shortcomings of the last one was always the interior," he said. "For a vehicle that can cost into six-figures, it had an interior that looked like it came from something under $20,000."

There are signs of excitement and hope for the halo car among those of buying age.

Tickets to a special event unveiling the new model, with proceeds going to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, sold out in about 10 minutes, with donations to get in reaching $1,200, according to GM.

A Google search for "new Corvette" yesterday resulted in 90 million results.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/2013...#ixzz2Hi3fVaiW
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:58 PM   #2
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I'm not sure to comment that I'm speechless or to comment how pathetic GM's beliefs are.

Wow. Just wow.
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I'm taking care of my procrastination issues, just you wait and see.
Old 01-11-2013, 05:06 PM   #3
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Kinda like GM has just flipped most us the bird.

This attitude and the design of the rear has been what has had me pissed off at GM for the last year. Maybe some of you now understand my rants.

Plumbers and a hell of a lot of other successful "middle" Americans have made Cheverolet, and Corvette pretty successful. I guess we'll see how this attitude translates to sales.
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Old 01-11-2013, 05:11 PM   #4
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Although I think we can all agree that young drivers will more than likely never be able to afford a Corvette, I do believe that GM needs to do something to create a lust for the car amongst younger people.

But its not just all about Corvette...it's about getting kids brand loyal from the beginning with fun offerings that they can afford. The V6 Camaro is a good start, but there needs to be something even more "entry level." Get people loyal to CHEVY and then when those young kids grow up, they'll want a Corvette.
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Old 01-11-2013, 05:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Longtimer View Post
Kinda like GM has just flipped most us the bird. This attitude and the design of the rear has been what has had me pissed off at GM for the last year. Maybe some of you now understand my rants.

Plumbers and a hell of a lot of other successful "middle" Americans have made Cheverolet, and Corvette pretty successful. I guess we'll see how this attitude translates to sales.
WW
Absofulutely
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Old 01-11-2013, 05:58 PM   #6
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Given GM's goals,

Is Corvette no longer "AMERICA'S SPORTS CAR" ?
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:03 PM   #7
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Given GM's goals,

Is Corvette no longer "AMERICA'S SPORTS CAR" ?
What makes you think that? It's still BUILT here. Just because it has global influence doesn't change that it's still a V8 powered American BRUTE, compared to other European exotic options.
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:07 PM   #8
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I read somewhere (maybe here) the buyer of a new Corevtte is in the +$100K range. I thiink that that excludes most young buyers.
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:12 PM   #9
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I read somewhere (maybe here) the buyer of a new Corevtte is in the +$100K range. I thiink that that excludes most young buyers.
Seems about right...but GM needs to create the DESIRE in young buyers to want one when they finally CAN afford it.

And if young kids think it's an "old man's car" or whatever, then even when they can afford it, they won't get one because "it's always been an old man's car and I'm not old."

Now, I am not saying GM should abandon their core market on the gamble of attracting new owners, but at least attempting to strike a balance would be nice.
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:26 PM   #10
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Sometimes the truth hurts.

This article is absolutely spot-on when it comes to the general perception that the Corvette is an "old man's car" and for those with somewhat unrefined tastes. I know that sounds insulting, but remember, I'm talking about perception, not reality (but perception is everything when it comes to sales and marketing).

I've told the story once before about a colleague of mine who was in his early 20s and drove a used C5 Corvette. It was four or five years ago, and he was 23-24 years old at the time, and he never heard the end of the ribbing. People were constantly asking him questions like: "where's your AARP card?" or "do you get a senior discount yet?" Last I talk to him (about three years ago), he was planning on selling it and in the market for a used Viper. And just a couple months ago I was channel surfing and came across some cheesy auction/car-restoration reality show on Discovery, and a group from some auto shop were looking at an old run down C3 and deciding if it was worth restoring, but they decided against it because "vettes are an old guy's car." That's just the way it is. For a couple decades now, people have seen the Corvette as an old man's car.
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:31 PM   #11
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I'm 33 and I STILL get ribbed by people for having one. From all types of people.

Fiance is 34 and she constantly gets questioned "Why a Corvette?" Although a red 77 driven by a woman gets lots of other attention too.
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:38 PM   #12
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What makes you think that? It's still BUILT here. Just because it has global influence doesn't change that it's still a V8 powered American BRUTE, compared to other European exotic options.
Because by GM's own NEW goal, the demographic for Corvette is now not the average successful American, but only the elitist Americans. Viper is made in the US too, but was never touted as "America's Sports Car" and the only reason Corvette kept that title was because of the demographic. Viper was never aimed at John Q. American. Now neither is Corvette.

BTW, I wonder what makes GM think elitist Americans have bad taste in rear fascias?
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:41 PM   #13
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What makes you think that? It's still BUILT here. Just because it has global influence doesn't change that it's still a V8 powered American BRUTE, compared to other European exotic options.
Didn't the original Corvette have global influences? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the first Corvette was inspired by European sports cars.
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:49 PM   #14
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Didn't the original Corvette have global influences? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the first Corvette was inspired by European sports cars.
Absolutely and continually developed by European Zora Arkus-Duntov, who drove a Porsche to a win at LeMans their first winning year ... while he was drawing a salary from GM. Then before returning home to GM, he spent over a week in Germany helping Porsche fix what was wrong with their suspension design. Changes were applied to the new model > 356 and they tried to give one to him for free. He said, "No thanks."
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:53 PM   #15
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Because by GM's own NEW goal, the demographic for Corvette is now not the average successful American, but only the elitist Americans. Viper is made in the US too, but was never touted as "America's Sports Car" and the only reason Corvette kept that title was because of the demographic. Viper was never aimed at John Q. American. Now neither is Corvette.

BTW, I wonder what makes GM think elitist Americans have bad taste in rear fascias?
That's not what they said. They're trying to EXPAND their customer base, not shift it.

In trend-setting cities such as Los Angeles and Miami, he wants the new Corvette to attract attention from buyers in their 30s and 40s making around $150,000 annually, while still appealing to loyalists.
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