C7 Seventh Generation
The next-generation (C7) Corvette had been in development since 2007. Originally set to be introduced for the 2011 model year, its introduction was delayed for 3 years. It was finally released for the 2014 model year. Mid-engine and rear-engine layouts had been considered, but the front-engine, rear-wheel drive (RWD) platform was chosen to keep production costs lower.
To GM's product planners and marketers, the fact that the Corvette had become known as an "old man's toy" became a prime factor in developing the next generation. Studies showed that about 46 percent of Corvette buyers in 2012, through October, were 55 or older, compared with 22 percent of Audi R8 and 30 percent of Porsche 911 customers. The head of Chevy marketing, Chris Perry, acknowledges that too many people saw it as the car of "the successful plumber." John Fitzpatrick, Corvette's marketing manager said "It's the old saying, 'Nobody wants to be seen driving an old man's car, but everybody wants to be seen driving a young man's car." To counter that perception GM planned to make the new generation C7 more aspirational to younger people. Towards that end, a camouflaged version of the car was made available in the popular video game Gran Turismo 5 in November 2012. As part of the marketing effort associated with the introduction of the new generation, the 2013 Indianapolis 500 utilized a Corvette for the 12th time as its pace car.
Sales success of the new Corvette is important to GM. The Motley Fool reports that the Corvette could be earning GM $10,000 or more in gross profit for every Corvette it sells. GM's profit on sales is separate from the profits made by the individual dealerships selling the cars to the public.
The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette uses an LT1 6.2 L V8 (376 cu in) making 455 bhp (339 kW) or 460 bhp (340 kW) with the optional performance exhaust. The LT1 engine (the "LT1" designation was first used by GM in 1970 and then later in 1992.) is in the Gen 5 family of small block engines, which will be used in GM vehicles as the new small V8 option. It features three technologies new to the GM V8, though widely available on other engines in the marketplace: direct injection, variable valve timing, and an active fuel management system. Fuel injectors are located under the intake manifold. The Corvette remains rear-wheel drive with the transaxle located in the rear. Transmission choices include a 7-speed manual or a 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. The new interior includes wide-bottom seats as standard, with sportier versions with high side bolsters optional. The Corvette's flag logo has been revised for the new car and a small casting of a stingray has been added to the car's ornamentation.
Features of the new generation's structure include a carbon fiber hood and removable roof panel. The fenders, doors and rear quarter panels remain composite. At the rear of the car, the trademark round taillights have changed to a more squarish form. The underbody panels are made of "carbon-nano" composite and it makes use of a new aluminum frame which locates the four wheels an inch farther apart, front to rear and side to side. Luggage space decreased by 33% from the previous generation's. The overall weight of the car was not announced by General Motors for many months after its first showing in January 2013. Despite the increased use of aluminum and other light weight materials, numerous publications reported that the weight would remain essentially unchanged from that of the previous generation's. In August, 2013, the weight of the new Corvette was reported to be 3,444 lb (1,562 kg), meaning it would weigh more than the previous generation's C6 ZR1 model (3,324 lb (1,508 kg). The ZR1 C6 weight included a supercharger and intercooler on its 6.2L engine.
Chevrolet announced the C7 Z06 at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. The 2015 Z06 Corvette has 650 bhp from the supercharged LT4 aluminum 6.2L V-8 engine. The new generation Corvette resurrected the "Stingray" name (originally spelled "Sting Ray"), last used in 1976. For the 2015 model, Chevrolet began offering a transaxle version of the 8L90 8-speed automatic to replace the previous 6-speed 6L80. Similar to other car makes such as BMW and Tesla, Corvettes connected to Telematic Control Units may be hacked by outsiders.