On my trip down to Palm Springs a few weeks ago to drive the 2014 Corvette Stingray Convertible, I found myself sitting next to Tadge Juechter, the Chief Engineer of the Corvette at dinner one night. Of all places, we were dining at Frank Sinatra’s house. But that’s another story.
As we dined on steak, washed down with bourbon, I engaged Juechter on the forthcoming performance Corvette, the Z06. Like any good company man, he was reluctant to divulge anything before the official unveil at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.
Though tight-lipped on the Z06 nitty-gritty, Juechter did freely discuss the Corvette’s sales. Chevrolet brass was quick to brag that the C6 outsold its main rival, the Porsche 911, in 2013 even though production was halted for six months.
In 2012, Chevrolet sold around 13,000 Corvettes. By comparison, in 1979, which was peak year for the Corvette, Chevrolet produced approximately 53,000 Corvettes.
While the ‘Vette might have indeed out-sold the 911, the Corvette is still in the midst of a sales slump, one that could very spell its demise.
General Motors is very proud of its all-new C7 Corvette Stingray, and rightfully so. Recently out of bankruptcy, though, GM’s not ready to make any costly mistakes. Heck, even the last range-topping C6 Corvette, the ZR1, had been declined by GM brass for production twice – and its designers threatened with termination – before it was eventually green-lit on the third go-’round.
Between bites of rib eye and sips of bourbon, I asked Juechter what he could tell me about the Z06.
“If we don’t get sales back up, there won’t be a next one,” Juechter calmly admitted.
At that moment, coincidentally or not, the Chevrolet public relations team called Juechter away from the table. Sadly, this meant that I’d never get elaboration. I think it’s safe to say, though, that unless the Stingray and all-new Z06 don’t scare up some serious sales figures in the next few years, we could see the Corvette breed grind to a halt around 2020.