GM will begin producing the 2020 Corvette late this year at its Bowling Green, Ky., plant. Since 2015, GM has invested $439 million to retool the factory to build the midengine Corvette. In addition to new production equipment, the plant is equipped with a new paint shop and a low-volume engine production facility called the Performance Build Center, which was previously in suburban Detroit.
"Corvette has always represented the pinnacle of innovation and boundary pushing at GM," GM President Mark Reuss said in a statement. "The traditional front engine reached the limit of its performance, necessitating the new layout. In terms of comfort and fun, it still looks and feels like a Corvette, but it drives better than any vehicle in Corvette history."
At the car's formal introduction at an old military aircraft hangar, Chevrolet officials ticked off a long list of high-tech items featured in the new Corvette.
• A new version of Chevrolet's classic small-block V-8 engine. This one retains the 6.2-liter displacement of the previous motor but has a new block that lowers the crankshaft an inch to mate to the transaxle. The layout helps improve handling, GM says.
The naturally aspirated engine is rated at 495 hp and 470 pound-feet of torque. When the Corvette is equipped with an optional performance package, it can propel the car to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds — the fastest base model Corvette in history.
GM did not mention any future engines in statements released before the media event. However, as part of the plant investment at Bowling Green, a new engine line for the twin-turbo "Blackwing" Cadillac V-8 has been installed. It's possible that higher-performance models of the Corvette could get a version of that engine.
• Chevrolet's first eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, a gearbox manufactured by Tremec, that allows the driver to shift the car manually or drive it as an automatic. "The performance shift algorithms are so driver-focused, they can sense when you are doing spirited driving, regardless of driving mode, and will hold lower gears longer for more throttle response," said Tadge Juechter, Corvette executive chief engineer. No manual transmission will be available at launch -- a first for the Corvette in decades.
• A reengineered suspension system that features coil over dampers, revised electric steering and the Corvette's first electric brake system, which eliminates the vacuum-powered brake booster. That has been replaced with an electronic unit that can be tuned and adjusted for different driving conditions. Other suspension features include a system that automatically raises the front of the car by about 1.5 inches to protect the lower bodywork from damage by potholes, speed bumps and steep driveways. It can be programmed to operate through GPS and can store as many as 1,000 locations.
• The digital vehicle platform that is the bedrock for GM's future electronics technologies. GM says it reduces wiring and allows for faster signal transmission between different vehicle systems. Vehicles that use the new electrical architecture can be updated via over-the-air programming, similar to how Tesla rolls out new model features.
• A chassis constructed using the mixed-material process introduced on the Cadillac CT6 and then used in high volume on the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups. With mixed materials, GM engineers use different metals of varying thicknesses in different parts of the chassis — the right metal in the right amount in the right place. The approach reduces weight but increases strength. The new Corvette uses what GM calls the Bedford Six. They are six high-pressure, die-cast aluminum components that minimize the number of joints in the chassis. Fewer joints yield a stiffer body, which improves handling, especially under strenuous track conditions. The aluminum parts are made at GM's Bedford, Ind., powertrain plant.