The heartbeat of America – the iconic Chevrolet Corvette unveiled in Detroit this morning – is coming to Australia for the first time in the sportscar’s 60-year history. General Motors has been promising a right-hand-drive version of the Corvette for decades but this time it’s serious, albeit “a few years away”.
At the media preview in Detroit this morning Australian time News Limited asked the chairman and CEO of General Motors, Dan Akerson, if the new, seventh-generation Corvette would be made in right-hand-drive. He answered “yes”. When asked when, he said “soon”.
But “soon” in the car industry is expected to mean a 2015 or 2016 introduction in Australia. The chief engineer of the new Corvette, Tadje Juechter, told News Limited: “We want the Corvette to come to Australia. I get letters from Australia all the time.
“Our primary competition sells left- and right-hand-drive, so that’s what we want to do. Our plan is to make this a truly global car. “But I would say [Mr Akerson’s] timetable is a little faster than what you’re probably thinking. It’ll be years away [rather than soon].”
A new Corvette comes along once every 10 years but Juechter said Australians would not have to wait “a decade” for the new model. In the US it costs about $80,000 but in Australia it would likely be priced about $100,000. Privately imported and converted Corvettes sell for in excess of $250,000.
The boss of Holden Mike Devereux told News Limited the company had no public comment to make about the new Corvette’s sales potential in Australia. The new Corvette, which adopts the Stingray name for the first time since the 1970s, is faster and lighter than its predecessors, even though it is bigger.
The 6.2-litre V8 engine has been upgraded with direct injection and the manual gearbox has a mode that pre-empts the correct revs required to engage the next gear. The Corvette has been seen as a working-class icon in recent years but the company has overhauled the new model and used more exotic materials such as carbon fibre and aluminium to enable it to stand scrutiny against Europe’s finest.
It was even developed on Germany’s Nurburgring test track, the home base for Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz vehicle development test teams. The new Corvette will be unveiled to the public at the Detroit motor show later this week before going on sale later this year.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling