Sunday, January 13, 2013

GM Wants New Corvette to be More than a Car for "Successful Plumbers", be a Poster on Kids' Walls

Even though it started as a young American’s dream car, somewhere along the way in its 60-year old history, the Corvette lost its edge and fell behind rivals.

GM execs agree with analysts such as Edmunds’ Jessica Caldwell who say that the ‘Vette is thought today as “an old man’s car”: the data show that last year, through October, around 46 percent of Corvette buyers were 55 years or older compared with just 22 percent of Audi R8 and 30 percent of Porsche 911 clients.

The all-new seventh generation of America’s first supercar, which will be launched tomorrow ahead of its 2013 NAIAS world premiere on Monday, is tasked with turning its image around with a new bodywork, drastically improved interior and a new 6.2-liter V8 engine that, with 450HP and a sub-4.0 second 0-60 mph (96km/h) time, will make it the quickest base ‘Vette ever.

“This new car is like Corvette has gone back to the gym and gotten fit. I want its image on every kid’s wall”, said GM design chief Ed Welburn as he showed a poster of the new Corvette along with 1959 and 1963 Stingrays in his office, Bloomberg reported.

After the 2009 bankruptcy and restructuring of the company, GM has often times put the Corvette at the back of the line.

Chris Perry, head of Chevrolet marketing in the U.S., admits that “We haven’t been managing the perception of the brand”. He thinks that GM “doesn’t really need to advertise the Corvette. There are a lot of people wanting to buy one”. In any case, “to help change the perception of the Corvette and help change the perception of Chevrolet, we’ll definitely be putting some marketing behind it”, he says.

What Perry wants is to change the perception of the Corvette as “a bit more of a Midwest sports car, the successful plumber” to a sports car that will appeal in buyers in their 30s and 40s with an annual income of around US$150,000 living in cities like Los Angeles and Miami, without alienating traditional ‘Vette fans.

Copying a page from Nissan’s book, GM will use video games to promote the C7 to a younger audience, and has already launched camouflaged car in the Gran Turismo 5 PS3 driving simulator from last November, with the real deal to be available after the official unveiling of the car on January 14.

“It’s amazing how these young people influence that older group”, said Corvette’s marketing manager John Fitzpatrick. “It’s the old saying ‘Nobody wants to be seeing driving an old man’s car but everybody wants to be seen driving a young man’s car.’”

Apparently, GM has given some publications an early preview; and since a secret is something that two people can keep as long as one of them is dead, some images have leaked and we can say that it doesn’t look half bad…

By Andrew Tsaousis
Story References: Bloomberg 

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