General Motors may be getting ready to launch a new sub-brand based on the Corvette.
According to a report from business news outlet Bloomberg, sources inside the company have confirmed General Motors' plans to build a number of Corvette-inspired models – known internally as 'Project R' or 'Brand R' – and kicking it off with an all-electric SUV.
The electric Corvette SUV is a similar strategy employed by Ford, with the Mustang Mach-E SUV taking design cues from its sports car namesake, and offering a sportier driving experience powered by an electric powertrain.
These renders by illustrator Aniket Kamble provide a glimpse at what a Corvette SUV could look like.
The internet was alive with speculation of a Corvette SUV, after General Motors hid an unidentified concept in plain sight at its CES presentation earlier this week, complete with Corvette-style headlights.
However, reports pointing to the likelihood of the mysterious vehicle being a Chinese-market Buick quickly quashed the rumours – which may be why we're now hearing leaks from company insiders, mere days later.
The unnamed sources said designers at GM are currently working on several concept cars, all destined to wear a Corvette badge, and with the intention of blending performance, luxury, practicality, and the iconic model's rakish styling.
The theoretical Corvette-badged SUV will almost certainly be based on General Motors' Ultium battery architecture, shared with upcoming models from the GM stable including the new GMC Hummer and Cadillac Lyriq.
"The Corvette brand has unlimited daylight on the upside. If I were there, what I would do is develop a dedicated architecture, super lightweight, super powerful, Porsche Cayenne-like, only much better and a little bigger, medium-volume Corvette SUV," former General Motors executive Bob Lutz told Automotive News Europe in June 2019.
"Target worldwide 20,000 to 30,000 units, and price it starting at [US]$100,000. Gorgeous interior. No V6 powertrain. No low-end version. It has to be the stellar premium sport-utility made in the United States, and the Corvette brand could pull that off."
Speaking to CarAdvice this week, Mr Lutz reaffirmed his faith in the Corvette name: "What I can tell you is that 'Corvette' is an extremely strong sub-brand, capable of being carefully expanded."
"My guess is that, should GM choose to do it, it would be closer to a Panamera than to a Cayenne [in body style]. GM has an excellent and hot-selling stable of SUV and crossover brands to fill that market. Not to mention the new Hummer. So, logically, it would have to be low and more dynamic-looking than the Mustang EV," he said.
In November 2019, during an earnings call, the Detroit Free Press reported the question of a Corvette SUV had been put to General Motors CEO Mary Barra by an analyst.
"I appreciate that you think our Corvette franchise is very strong," Ms Barra responded, but stopped short of discussing future product plans.
"We look at a variety of things as we go forward and we recognize the strength of the Corvette brand," she added.
Speculation surrounding a hybrid or electric Corvette coupe has persisted since 2015, when GM first trademarked 'E-Ray' – a play on the 'Stingray' nameplate, long associated with the model.
A second trademark was submitted for the E-Ray badge in August 2020, weeks after president-elect Joe Biden – who was just a candidate at the time – let slip about an electric Corvette during a campaign video.
"They tell me – and I’m looking forward, if it’s true, to driving one – they’re making an electric Corvette that can go 200 miles per hour," Mr Biden said in the video, which showcased his own 1967 Corvette.
In January 2017, CarAdvice spied the frame of a Corvette sitting at General Motors' battery development centre in the US, leading to more industry rumours of a hybrid or fully-electric version.
"Just about every EV, regardless of body style, can offer neck-snapping acceleration," Mr Lutz told CarAdvice. "So, what will make cars like the Corvette or 911 or Ferrari 'special'? Glad I no longer have to deal with issues like that!
"This is all speculation on my part, because I know nothing specific about GM's plans. I do know GM has the deepest well of battery, EV and autonomy talent of any car company on the planet, and will surprise the world," he said.
"If I were Elon Musk, I'd start taking tranquilisers."