In big news for Corvette fans: There will not be a price increase for the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stringray. It’s a silver lining in the production storm that battered the launch of the C8 that was reimagined as a mid-engine sports car after 50 years of longing by Vette enthusiasts.
That means the base price for the 2021 Stingray coupe, which was the 2020 MotorTrend Car of the Year, remains at $59,995 while the convertible stays pat at $67,495. Other good news: You don’t have to get the Z51 performance package to enjoy GM’s excellent Magnetic Ride Control. It will be a standalone option, even on the base model, says Tadge Juechter, executive chief engineer for the Corvette.
Customers will be able to order the 2021 C8s in late July. “We initially said we would start taking 2021 Corvette orders at the end of this month but, again, due to the plant being down for two months, we’re adjusting that timing to late July,” Juechter said. 2020 model production will also be extended through most of the year o try to fill as many existing orders as possible.
A Welcome Extension of a Surprisingly Low Starting Price
GM surprised the industry when it announced its long-awaited mid-engine car would start under $60,000, in keeping with the Chevrolet mandate to develop a sports car anyone could afford. That led to reports that the price would have to be hiked for the second model year.
MotorTrend talked to sources who said the impressive base price was only good for the first year, and that the true cost of the technically sophisticated car was about $20,000 higher and would have to be recouped at some point. GM was losing money on low-trim cars and hoping to make it up on higher trims and options. But the events of 2020 have put the price hike on hold. Historically we hike the price in the second year, when the car is still hot, but we’re not going to do that, Juechter said.
While the 2020 has only been on sale a few months, it is leading its albeit-small segment. Of the 20,181 total orders for the 2020 model, 83 percent of demand is for the coupe; 17 percent for the convertible, said Corvette Product Manager Harlan Charles. Breaking down coupe orders, the 3LT is most popular with 44 percent of orders, followed by the 2LT at 40 percent and 1LT at 16 percent. Torch Red is the most popular color, followed by Arctic White, Black, and Sebring Orange. For interiors, jet black is the most requested, followed by black and red two-tone.
Corvette Production Hit With a Double Whammy
“We’ve been challenged during the launch with two circumstances that were beyond our control: the weeks long work stoppage last fall and now the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Juechter.
Here’s what happened: GM was building out the previous-gen C7 last fall when failure to reach a new labor agreement with the United Auto Workers resulted in a strike that halted assembly for six weeks. When workers returned to work in late October, they had to finish final orders for the outgoing front-engine Vette. Then the Bowling Green plant had to be idled for a couple weeks to retool to make the dramatically different eighth-generation car. Instead of starting production in December 2019—by which time the car had already sold out—the first 2020 Stringray coupe rolled off the line Feb. 3. Convertibles were to be added to the mix in April.
Then came the global pandemic, and by March GM had shut down production around the world. Plants in North America were closed March 20 as part of the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Many would-be Corvette owners were back to waiting.
Corvette production resumed in Kentucky on May 26 on a single shift and is slowly ramping up. When it is safe to do so, the second shift will resume, as well. “We’re acting like this is a new start, like we’re launching the car all over again,” Juechter said.
2020 Production Extended While 2021 Orders Delayed
All this made it impossible to build a full supply of 2020 models. GM will extend production of the 2020 Stingray through the fall and add convertibles to the line this summer. “This will help us to make sure we’re building most—but not all—of the 2020 Corvette orders we have received,” said Juechter.
By holding the price for those who will be offered a 2021 model instead, GM is essentially providing a two-year launch period and ensuring prospective buyers don’t go away empty-handed.
Customers will be updated on the status of their individual orders in the next couple weeks. There is a Corvette concierge they can call for updates, as well. Chevy will reach out to those whose orders won’t be filled when there is a better idea of how many will get built before the changeover to the new model year.
Convertible Joins the Line This Summer
The convertible will be added to the line this summer, although the specific date is not finalized because the plant just came back online and is feeling its way through a relaunch under new safety protocols. Juechter wouldn’t say how many additional 2020 Corvettes will be built, or the split between coupes and convertibles.
New Features for the 2021 Corvette
For 2021, there are two new colors: Red Mist Tint Coat Metallic and Silver Flare Metallic, replacing Long Beach Red Metallic Tintcoat and Blade Silver Metallic. Juechter likes the new red so much, he has ordered a 2021 in it. He says it looks like it is glowing from the inside and is one of the most exciting new shades Corvette has ever introduced.
There are about 21 other updates for the new model year, but Juechter is not spilling all the beans yet. Full pricing including options, and further update details will be revealed closer to ordering in July.
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