Is Joe Biden Confirming an All-Electric Chevrolet Corvette?
Automakers are notoriously tight-lipped about future product, much to the endless frustration of scoop-hungry automotive journalists.
They respond “we don’t comment on future product” to our e-mailed queries so often that I suspect it’s an automated response. It’s a running joke when hacks and flacks are drinking together in the hospitality suite on a junket and one of us tries to get a buzzed P.R. professional to spill some tea. They go to great lengths to disguise prototypes from the prying eyes of both professional spy photogs and random jamokes with a cell-phone camera. Speaking of cell-phone cameras, journalists invited on to automaker property for certain events will have their phone’s camera lens covered with a sticker for the duration.
All that work meant to keep the news secret until the appropriate time, and along comes former vice president and current Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden, a man who is known for the occasional gaffe. He was speaking in Warren, Michigan, today. And for the second time in two months, he may have accidentally confirmed some of General Motors’ future product plans involving the Chevrolet Corvette C8, this time by cracking a joke about an all-electric Corvette.
Or maybe not. Before just firing away a blog based on what I saw on the Twitters/Facebooks and one line from the Detroit Free Press, I gave Chevy a call.
As expected, spokesman Shad Balch gave me a “no comment” because, well, future product. But video of the speech is online, and a closer look reveals that maybe Biden was talking about an aftermarket conversion? Certainly, that’s what a Chevy PR person pointed to on the Facebook page of another automotive journalist.
Of course, that could be a deflection by the automaker to prevent news about their product from leaking.
Here’s the quote, starting a little after 30 minutes in: “I can’t wait to get us (unintelligible) behind that all-electric Corvette that goes 210 miles an hour. Y’all think I’m kidding, I mean it. Heh. Last year, that converted Corvette set a speed record of 210.2 miles per hour. Electric vehicle. So don’t tell me we don’t still make the best cars right here in the United States of America. And trucks.” He then goes on to speak about his plans for EVs.
There are a few things to unpack here. First, Biden made a stir in August when he posted a video of himself driving his classic Corvette and made mention of an electric Corvette with 200 mph capability. Second, the Genovation GXE is a converted C7 Corvette that had 200 mph capability. Third, we don’t know exactly what speed record he’s talking about, but the GXE did hit that exact number in Florida about a year ago.
Finally, in what might be an amazing coincidence, GM-Trucks.com broke news this morning of GM documentation that it claims proves the future existence of an electrified Corvette, as a 2023 or 2024 model. The report suggests the car will be a hybrid, with all-wheel drive and an electric motor or motors driving the front wheels. Not too far off from the system in the Acura NSX.
A hybrid, of course, is not an “all-electric” vehicle. And the report indicates it is unclear if Chevy is developing both a hybrid and a pure EV, or if people are conflating the two. It is, of course, possible that Biden was told of the hybrid and is getting it mixed up with an all-electric car. Maybe he read the report from GM-Trucks.com.
So did Biden confuse an aftermarket conversion of the previous-gen car with the current vehicle, or with something he saw or was told about while on some tour of a GM plant or office or the design center? It’s possible – he’s been prone to gaffes for decades, and lots of people, even those who know cars, might get mixed up, especially while giving a speech.
Or does GM really have something in the works and are they using the fact that Biden said “converted” (which he clearly did in the video) to hide behind? I mean, Biden could’ve meant that the current mid-engine C8 was being “converted” from internal combustion to electric for a variant. Yet, the existence of the GXE and that speed number gives them a nice smokescreen.
It should also be noted that Chevrolet advertises a top speed for the 2020 C8 of 194 mph. That’s pretty darn close to 200, obviously. So was Biden thinking of the current car, which is very much NOT electric, and getting it mixed up with something he’d heard about GM’s/Chevy’s future plans for electrification? Maybe yesterday’s news about GM and Nikola?
Whatever the case may be, it’s just one more thing that will fuel speculation until GM solves the mystery. Either an electric C8 will launch sometime in the next few years, or it won’t.
Until that day comes, keep your ear to the grindstone
Internet points to those who caught the movie reference in my kicker.