The Chevrolet Corvette may have been all-new for 2020, from its mid-engined layout to its standard dual-clutch transmission, but there’s one iconic part of the Corvette that General Motors wasn’t willing to discard even in the dramatic transition from seventh-generation Vette to eighth: the fact that it’s a performance bargain. In spite of its supercar-baiting layout, design and capabilities, the 2020 Corvette started at just $59,995 before those pesky taxes, fees and destination charges take hold.
And thankfully, that’s not changing for the Corvette’s second year of production. Car and Driver is reporting that the 2021 Chevy Corvette’s base price will stay right at $59,995. (That is, of course, for the coupe; the convertible with its power-folding hardtop will run you a little more, with a base price of $67,495.)
The news comes as a relief because, well, GM seems to have plenty of profit-driven incentive to nudge that base price higher. Last year, Motor Trend reported that a senior source at the carmaker told them that General Motors loses money on every Corvette that rolls off the Bowling Green assembly line with a sticker of less than $80,000; for every base Vette that’s sold, GM’s bottom line takes a bath to the tune of the full market value of a well-equipped Chevy Sonic. Reports that the car’s base price would climb after the first year, then, were unsurprising — if unwelcome.
Yet here we are with 2021 model year Corvettes soon to arrive, and the price reportedly unchanged. To use a Seinfeldian turn of phrase, what’s the deal with that?
Well, there are a few factors that could be at play. First off, between a strike at the Kentucky factory and the coronavirus pandemic forcing the assembly lines to close for months, production of the 2020 Corvette never quite reached the expected numbers; as a result, many of the loyal Corvette buyers who placed their orders first might not be able to grab the 2020 model they were promised, and instead have their orders rolled into the next model year. Jacking up the prices under them due to outside circumstances would be, shall we say, not nice.
Secondly, there are probably less sub-$80K Vettes rolling out the door than you think. As Chevy told us during the press presentation at the first drive event in Las Vegas earlier this year, most early buyers were ordering up cars loaded with features, a claim borne out by a list of most popular options Corvette options recently obtained by GM Authority; 44 percent of coupe buyers opted for the top-trim 3LT model that starts at $71,945, for example, while 54 percent of all buyers went for the most expensive suspension setup that combines the Z51 performance package with magnetic ride shocks for $6,895. (That’s not to mention the onslaught of more-expensive-and-likely-more-profitable variants coming down the pike in the next couple years.)
And finally, well, GM can afford to make the Corvette a loss leader. In the previous C7-generation Corvette’s best year, it sold 40,689 units; even if the C8 matched that and lost $20,000 on every unit, it’d still be a drop in the bucket compared to how much the company makes on its pickup trucks. Last year, General Motors sold 807,923 GMC Sierras and Chevy Silverados…and it makes an average of $17,000 in profit on each one of them.
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