Earlier this month, Chevrolet announced a $5800 option for Corvette Z06 and ZR1 buyers to build their own engine right inside the Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan. They’ve posted a great HD video on YouTube illustrating the build process. It’s a wonderfully creative move that shows someone at GM is thinking about a company’s relationship with its customers.
Casual car owners may be wondering why one would pay extra money to do the manufacturer’s work. The type of customer who would buy these cars is not confused at all: for a true sports car enthusiast, there may be nothing more intimate than building an engine.
Most high-end sports car makers offer meaningless options and “experiences” designed only to extract more money from the target demographic: $1500 leather; $2000 paint jobs; $5000 “driving schools” with less than an hour behind the wheel. Yet here is GM, a company written off for dead by many observers, with perhaps the most memorable experience possible. What’s cooler than owning a 500-plus horsepower supercar? Building one with your own hands.
Between the employee time investment and the low volume of Z06 and ZR1 sales, this program will not be a moneymaker for GM. That’s not the point. This is a bold and brilliant move to establish a rapport with core customers, and to get the attention of enthusiasts and industry observers. It’s reminiscent of what Apple stayed true to while staging the biggest comeback in the history of business.
It’s very encouraging to see this kind of thinking still alive in Detroit. Companies in every industry should do more of it.
(Aside: Note “Corvette” is the stated brand in the video—GM wisely continues to distance its own tainted image. Don’t be surprised if Corvette becomes its own company in the next few years.)