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Mary Barra cools speculation of Corvette as a spin-off brand, à la Mustang

Sven Gustafson

Chevrolet’s heavily anticipated mid-engine 2020 Corvette is still a couple months away from entering production, but that hasn’t stopped speculation that GM could follow the example of the Ford Mustang — or Ram years earlier — and spin off Corvette as its own sub-brand. But in an interview with motor Trend, CEO Mary Barra pumped the brakes on any notion that we’ll soon see the Corvette nameplate on anything other than the iconic performance car.

“I think you have to be really careful because you have to understand what makes the brand the brand,” Barra said. “So I’m not gong to say never, but I think if General Motors were to ever do anything, we would assess it very, very carefully.”

Elsewhere, speaking about the C8 Corvette’s starting price — more on that in a moment — she offered further insight, saying that “Chevrolet is a home for Corvette and Chevrolet is American, and it’s value, it’s ingenuity.”

Barra’s argument is perhaps unsurprising, considering that the all-new C8 Corvette ostensibly still needs some runway to introduce itself and fill out its new mid-engine identity. Ford had no such issues to consider when it announced that the Mustang, which it had opened up to global markets years earlier, would serve as the basis of a new family of vehicles, starting with the 2021 Mach-E electric crossover unveiled last month, even as it prepared for the inevitable backlash from purists.

For what it’s worth, Barra has also said the Corvette may be her favorite car, so there may be personal affinity involved. Though it's also worth noting that Ford brass overrode Bill Ford Jr.'s initial objections over using the Mustang name for its electric vehicle project.

A Morgan Stanley analyst recently suggested that a Corvette sub-brand could be worth between $7 billion and $12 billion if joined by a battery-electric crossover, adding that while the move was long unthinkable, “times are changing in global autos.”

Elsewhere, MotorTrend reports, based on an unnamed senior GM source, that the automaker will lose money on every C8 Corvette sold for less than $80,000 and that the $59,995 starting price for the 1LT will last only for the first year. Barra said it remains to be seen just how much higher the starting price would jump for the 2021 model but that it needs to be “obtainable” in keeping with the Chevy brand.