March 10, 2010 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – For the first time, General Motors studios across the world have submitted design studies for the next-generation Chevrolet Corvette.
Late last year, Ed Welburn, GM’s vice president of global design, invited GM’s 10 styling studios to submit design proposals.
Some “were absolutely phenomenal,” Welburn said. “There is a lot to pick from. The direction that we take is very important, and the decision has not been made.”
Global input on the Corvette’s design is one of several steps GM is taking to attract buyers in Europe, where the car has little appeal, and young U.S. buyers who favor imports.
“We have challenges in the States with the Corvette,” Welburn said in an interview at the Geneva auto show. “The average age of the customer is really rising.”
The current average age of a Corvette buyer is 54, according to the Power Information Network, a unit of J.D. Power and Associates.
Corvette sales are in a tailspin. Last year 13,934 were sold in the United States, down 48 percent from 2008.
The current Corvette debuted in the 2005 model year. Prices range from $49,880 for the base coupe to $107,830 for the ZR-1. Both prices include shipping.
A redesign is due in two to three years, industry sources say.
Corvette critics often cite the sports car’s size, saying it looks big. They also point to what they say is a cheap-looking interior.
Welburn admitted the interior has a problem: “The execution, materials selection–it’s got to be a much better interior. Our customers desire that.”
Welburn said today’s Corvette is about the same size as the Porsche 911, but the styling makes it look bigger. “We have to develop a design that feels trimmer, meaner, to go along with the incredible performance that the car has,” he said.
In addition to styling, content, pricing and marketing strategy are under discussion, he said.
“It is a key time in the development of the Corvette,” Welburn said. “There is a lot of debate and a lot of study on the bandwidth of Corvette.”
But, he added, “It can’t mutate into something that gets so far away from Corvette that it is no longer a Corvette.”
SOURCE: AUTOMOTIVE NEWS