Americans love loud engines. Think the rumble of a Harley Davidson motorcycle’s V-twin engine or the angry sputter of an idling ’68 Camaro. But the sound coming out from the 2015 C7 Corvette Stingray’s 450 horsepower LT1 V8 engine is just a little too much for at least one global market.
“The launch of the seventh-generation Corvette is being delayed indefinitely due to Korea’s regulation on automobile noise,” Chevrolet Korea CEO Sergio Rocha said at a media event in Seoul where General Motors was showing off its (quieter) 2015 Aveo subcompact, Cruze compact and Trax crossover vehicles that will soon go on sale in South Korea. According to GM Authority, Rocha added: “Although such regulatory stance may benefit the industry in the short run, I wonder if that’s something that should be in place for a long time.”
South Koreans have traditionally been very nationalistic in their automotive purchases, loyal to their Hyundais and Kias. But as the ranks of the middle and upper classes grow, and as free trade agreements drop import tariffs, South Korea is seeing a boom in import luxury car sales. Automotive imports grew 250 percent last year, rising above 150,000 for the first time, according to Ward’s Auto.
That's just the type of growth that appeals to the maker of a modestly priced, head-turning sports car. Rocha said GM could try to convince lawmakers to change the law, or perhaps help the company earn an exemption for the new seventh-generation Corvette. But even if GM succeeded delivering the new Corvette, its previous models haven’t been hot sellers. South Koreans bought all of a dozen Corvettes last year.
In September, Ford Motor Co. received some ribbing from the automotive press for the 2015 Ford Mustang’s Active Noise Control feature that amps up the sound of the latest Mustang’s smaller 2.3 liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine though the cabin speakers, giving drivers a “natural experience.” Ford says it held clinics with Mustang aficionados to develop this artifice, which is only used in the Mustang with the small engine. Some American car fans really, really like to be heard.
Listen to the C7 Corvette Stingray and judge for yourself if the South Koreans should lighten up on automobile noise: