How much is the new Chevrolet Corvette going to cost in NZ?
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It's been three weeks since Chevrolet 'broke the internet' as the young'uns say with the new Corvette C8.
Of course most of the Corvette wasn't a surprise. The whole thing had already been unmasked by internet sleuths and covert photographers. We knew it was going to be mid-engined and that the whole design would be tweaked forwards to suit.
Instead it was a five-digit number that caused everyone to drop what they were doing — $60,000.
News that the C8 was going to start in America for less than sixty grand in American currency — a hilariously crazy and cheap price for a mid-engined supercar with a 369kW/637Nm 6.2-litre V8 — stormed headlines internationally. And further confirmation closer to home that Holden would be bringing it to Austalasia in American-made right-hand drive only added to the excitement.
But of course, there are a few things to unpack here before we all start putting down payments on 'bargain bin' Corvettes. Don't expect your neighbourhood to look like that Corvette scene from Mr. Deeds any time soon.
As a straight conversion, US$60,000 ends up being almost $93,000 in local currency. Arriving here at that price would place the Corvette in an obscene place, where it'd cost less than a third of the price of its core on-paper rivals while simultaneously being considerably cheaper than even relative power lightweights like the Porsche Cayman and Toyota Supra.
But, we already know that Kiwis pay a premium for cars that have travelled a long way to be here. Just look at the Ford Mustang as an example. In the US V8 models start at US$35,630 — approximately $54,990 — but here they start at $80,990. A difference of over 20 grand.
On a more extreme level, there's also the Chevrolet Camaro. Costing US$42,000 in its homeland in '2SS' guise, the same model starts here at $104,990. Along with the same reasons for price growth as the Mustang (distance, low supply, exchange rates), the Camaro's bottom-line figure is also impacted by the extensive third-party-but-not right-hand drive conversion at HSV.
So straight off the bat, we can rule out paying under $100,000 for the Corvette. And there's another trend that plays into this too; spec.
The 2SS and just about every other niche performance car that comes to New Zealand is of a middling to upper level of specification. That tends to be the trend not just with the fast stuff, but with most low-volume cars that make it to our shores. The base model is rarely considered for our market.
While the Corvette's full range and full pricing have yet to be fleshed out properly by GM, an optional Z51 Performance Pack has been confirmed. The package includes black wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber, magnetic dampers, a rear spoiler, and an assortment of other changes.
It's already been spit-balled that Australia's entry-level Corvette will be the Z51, and — given that New Zealand's allocation of new vehicles tends to follow Australia's — there's little reason to disagree.
Maybe the most obvious comparison to make is that of the Corvette and the recently landed Camaro ZL1. The range-topping Camaro (not including the ZL1 1LE that we don't get here) is priced very close to the US$60,000 mark in America — sitting at US$61,500 ($94,795).
But once again, it's worth noting that our Camaros and this Corvette operate on different production models. The ZL1, like the rest of the Camaro line-up, gets shipped as in LHD before getting taken apart in Melbourne and rebuilt in RHD at a not insignificant expense. The Corvette will be made in RHD and sent straight here.
With the give and take of being offered in a higher spec but also coming directly from the US with the steering wheel on the correct side, there is significant chance that the Corvette C8 and Camaro ZL1 will be priced almost identically; under $200,000, but over $160,000.
What's likely to ultimately decide the C8's pricing fate is whether Holden and HSV want (or see the need) to work together on price. The C8 and ZL1 aren't the same car, but arguably they do both pursue the same V8-minded customer.
Should the Corvette's allocation figures for Australasia be less than the Camaro's, there's likely to be a push to make it more expensive than the ZL1. If it's brought down here in bulk (unlikely, but not out of the question), however, there will be a push for it to undercut the ZL1.
It's been rumoured that the Corvette won't hit the Australian and Kiwi market until around the fourth quarter of 2020, by which point the current ZL1 allocations on both sides of the Tasman will likely have been long sold.
Until the time that Holden beam out the Corvette C8's local pricing, everything out there (including this story) is just speculation. We await that news with plenty of interest.