Joe Biden’s campaign recently released a video ad of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee showing off his classic Corvette.
The campaign ad, entitled Joe Biden Gets Vetted, was posted on Biden’s Twitter account and YouTube and focuses on the candidate’s love for American-made cars and the future of the auto industry.
Sitting behind the wheel of his Goodwood Green 1967 Corvette, Biden says: “I believe that we can own the 21st century market again by moving to electric vehicles. And, by the way, they tell me, and I’m looking forward – if it’s true – to driving one, that they’re making an electric Corvette [that] can go 200 miles an hour.”
The ad caused a stir among auto industry insiders: Did Joe Biden just reveal that General Motors is making an electric Corvette that can go 200 miles an hour?
Maybe. But maybe not.
It’s also not clear what he means by “making.” It could mean factory workers somewhere are building this car today. Or he could actually mean “developing,” as in making test models and preparing something for possible future production. People often say a car company “is making” something when they’re actually planning to make something – as in “GM is making an electric Hummer truck” even though it hasn’t even been publicly unveiled yet.
It is entirely possible – even probable – that GM (GM) is developing an electric Corvette. GM (GM) has a publicly stated long-term goal of, someday, having a completely zero emissions lineup of cars trucks and SUVs. Corvette is arguably GM (GM)’s single most famous model name and, as GM (GM) changes over to all-electric, it isn’t going to want to drop the Corvette. America’s sports car will almost definitely come along on that ride.
Asked about Biden’s comments, a GM spokesman declined to “engage in the rumor and speculation around this.”
“As you know, GM has committed to an all-electric future and we’re excited to see where that will lead us into the future,” GM spokesman Kevin Kelly said in an email.
Even if GM is working on an electric Corvette, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be based on the current Corvette model. As far back as 1996’s EV1, GM has shown a preference for designing electric cars as electric from the very beginning rather than adapting previous gasoline-powered models. (There have been exceptions, like the Chevrolet S-10 EV pickup from that same era, but clearly it was an exception.)
As with the recently unveiled Cadillac Lyriq and the self-driving Origin, GM’s “electric-only” approach to EVs allows engineers to take full advantage of the design flexibility that electric motors and batteries offer.
The Corvette is supposed to be a platform for GM engineers to show off their best work. It seems most likely, then, that it won’t be an all-electric version of a car that was originally designed around a gasoline-powered V8 – no matter how good that sports car is. My bet is that an electric Corvette will come later, and that it will be engineered and manufactured only as a fully electric plug-in sports car.
But what if, by “making,” Biden meant that these cars were being assembled today? If that’s what he meant, then he isn’t talking about General Motors.
Who else could make a Corvette, though? Well, no one else because that would be trademark infringement. But there is a Rockville, Maryland-based company called Genovation that has been developing an electric car based on the last-generation Corvettes for a few years now
The Genovation GXE is a front-engined seventh-generation Corvette with the engine replaced by batteries and it can indeed go over 200 miles an hour, according to the company. The GXE has two electric motors producing as much as 800 horsepower.
The company plans to make 75 of the cars at a cost of about $750,000 each, plus the cost of the original Corvette. I drove one in 2018, but prototypes are still undergoing testing and refinement and, so far, no Genovation GXEs have been delivered to customers, Saul said.
Spokespeople for the Biden campaign did not say which company or what car Biden was talking about. A spokesperson only noted that conjecture about an electric Corvette has been around for a long time.
It seems likely, though, given the 200 mile per hour detail, that Biden was talking about the Genovation GXE. In which case, the Democratic candidate’s promised future – at least in terms of an electric Corvette – is already here.