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General Motors sees rough waters ahead for the Corvette unless changes are made to the vehicle now. So in an effort to solve any potential issues before they actually become problems, Chevy has decided to look outside America for help.
So what would sort of problems could the incredibly capable American icon have? Well, according to a report in AutoWeek, GM saw a 48 percent sales decline for the Corvette over the last year, while the bigger issue might be that the average age of Corvette buyers continues to rise. Last year, the average age was 54. Chevy believes that in order to combat this issue and make the Vette more attractive to a younger demographic it needs a design change. After all, the car’s performance certainly can’t be in question.
According to GM’s VP of global design, Ed Welburn, last year the company approached its European Design studios to to send in next generation (C7) Corvette design proposals. “We have to develop a design that feels trimmer, meaner, to go along with the incredible performance that the car has,” said Welburn. Currently, the Corvette faces the stigma of being a large car, when in fact it is roughly the same size as the current Porsche 911.
Still, Welburn doesn’t want to alienate his core audience. Speaking about the new design he says, “It can’t mutate into something that gets so far away from Corvette that it is no longer a Corvette.”
We’re eager to see what a more European-style Corvette might look like. Now if only Chevy would give the Corvette a more European interior.
The next generation of the Corvette will come with a rear split-window design. GM’s global design boss Ed Welburn said that the next Corvette, known as the C7, will take on some retro styling cues, like the two-part rear window that first appeared on the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray Coupe.
That design actually only ever last just one year, but has become such an iconic symbol of the Corvette’s legendary heritage.
Welburn said that with modern back-up cameras and blind-sot detection systems, the limited visibility of such a design isn’t as much of an issue as it once was. He did not, however, specify if this would be standard on all models or (as is more likely) if it will be a specific trim level, option pack, or a special model.
Such a design was first hinted at with the Stingray Concept that was featured in the recent Transformers movie. That car is not the next Corvette,” said Welburn to Inside Line. “But the split window is something that I expect for the next Corvette.”
Chevy’s on-again, off-again plans to build an ultra high-performance Z28 version of the all-new Camaro are back on again. Ed Welburn, GMs VP of global design, told the folks at Inside Line, that it will see production and that the new body design has already been completed.
The new Z28 would get a version of the Cadillac CTS-V’s supercharged 6.2-liter V8, which makes 556-hp in that application. The V also comes with both a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic, so we should expect both versions to be offered on the high-powered Camaro.
Plans for a Z28 model were canned when the economy took a nose dive and General Motors declared bankruptcy. But during that entire process the Camaro was a bright light, as sales soared. Now GM is hoing to capitalize on the new Camaro and ride its wave of success for as long as possible.
This new Z28 would in many ways be a direct competitor for Ford’s 540-hp Shelby GT500. That being said, expect more than just aesthetic modifications, with bigger brakes and some suspension tuning.
At the earliest the Camaro Z28 would be a 2011 model, with the possibility of sales some time later in 2010.
The next General Motors product to get a plug-in hybrid powertrain, like the one that will be introduced in the Chevy Volt, may be a Buick.
This new PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) was supposed to be a version of the Saturn Vue, but as GM has now sold off the Saturn brand to the Penske Automotive Group those plans have most likely been scrapped. After all, we can’t see GM parting with its fancy new PHEV system so easily after all the time, effort and resources it has poured into creating it.
Speculation as to which model would get the powertrain immediately turned towards similar GM crossovers, but according to the folks at GM-Volt.com, the doner chassis will be an all-new small crossover which, according to GM’s design boss Ed Welburn is due out in 2011.
If GM does decide to go this route, we will most-likely see Toyota develop a similar PHEV platform shortly afterwards. Or perhaps just a PHEV-version of the Lexus RX.
Buick shows us its business
It’s a well-known fact that the Buick is a dominant force (and growing) in the Chinese marketplace, so it’s no surprise that the traditionally traditional brand used the Shanghai Auto Show to debut an important new concept. The real surprise is that this crossover is anything but traditional.
The Buick Business MPV (Multi Purpose Vehicle) Concept was developed in China by the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), which is a joint project between GM and the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC).
The Business incorporates much of Buick’s new design philosophy, taking much of what we first saw in the Riviera concept car and using it in a boxy crossover vehicle.
GM hasn’t confirmed the underpinnings of the Business MPV Concept but it’s likely the architecture is the same that forms the basis of the Chevrolet Orlando concept, which first debuted at the 2008 Paris Auto Show, was confirmed for production at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and has since been delayed.
Outside, the Business MPV Concept sits on 20-inch wheels, LED lights and features plenty of glass. Inside, the cockpit is elegant and sophisticated. One unique feature are the second row chairs that can swivel 225 degrees.
Another surprise lies under the hood of the crossover, as the Business is powered by GM’s next-generation hybrid system, with lithium-ion batteries that allow these new hybrids to get 20 percent better fuel economy than the previous hybrid systems. Such fuel-savings are also helped by several other innovative features in the new hybrid system, including regenerative braking and a start/stop system which shuts off the gasoline engine at idle.
“Developing and launching the Business Concept Vehicle in China underscores the diversity, strength and depth of GM’s global design network,” said Ed Welburn, VP of Global Design a General Motors. “It also reflects PATAC’s growing role within the GM design family and China’s significance as the world’s largest Buick market.”
GALLERY: Buick Business MPV Concept
Official release after the jump: