C8 Corvette Production Seems Cursed
Thanks to last year’s prolonged UAW strike and this year’s global pandemic, production of Chevrolet’s new Corvette is way behind schedule. As reported previously, GM had already dialed back the expected number of 2020 C8s headed to dealers by roughly 20 percent before the coronavirus touched down in North America.
Unfortunately, reopening factories hasn’t magically transported the manufacturer into a scenario where C8 ‘Vettes are abundant and customers can rest assured they’ll see their new toy by the end of this year.
Plenty of orders have already been rolled over for 2021 model-year vehicles, especially if they’re convertibles. Now, supply chain troubles all but guarantee 2020 will be an unfortunately weak year for the mid-engined Corvette, and GM knows it. The company’s doing everything it can to get as much product out the door as possible. However, the obstacles placed in GM’s path have proven too large — and timed too perfectly — for it to ever had much of a chance at a normal product launch.
“We are not going to build all of the 2020 orders,” GM spokesman Kevin Kelly told the Detroit Free Press this week, noting all the aforementioned issues.
While that makes the C8 seem utterly cursed by fate, certain models from rival manufacturers seem like much better candidates. Barring a few untoward claims about fit and finish, which one could dismiss by way of Chevy’s impressively low pricing, the Corvette just happens to have some of the worst luck imaginable when it comes to timing. Unless you’re not a fan of the updating styling, there’s not much to complain about other than availability.
“We’ve had an enormous demand for this vehicle and we had that work stoppage and we have suppliers trying to come up to speed too,” Kelly explained. “The plant is still coming up from COVID. We still haven’t brought up the second shift yet, so we’re still ramping up.”
He also said the manufacturer garnered 20,181 orders through May 1st — which is after it stopped taking orders for 2020. GM’s quarterly report cites it as having delivered just 3,820 Corvettes in total. Fewer than 2,700 are assumed to be the C8. At that pace, it’s not going to get through every order by year’s end unless production ramps up swiftly and remains high.
Right now, that isn’t the case. The Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky is currently operating with less than half its normal staff, and several suppliers have found themselves in a uncomfortably similar situation. Even if GM added a shift today, there may not be an adequate parts supply to maintain production.
From Detroit Free Press:
Typically, about 1,200 people across two shifts assemble the car, but since the plant restarted May 26, one shift of 570 workers is on the line, said a person familiar with plant operations who is not authorized to speak to the media.
The person said the plant is building 60 to 90 cars a day, when it normally would assemble more than 180 across the two shifts.
But Kelly said the delay is merely typical ramp-up after a shutdown, saying, “We are unaware of any production target misses and are attaining the production output set for the team at Bowling Green as we continue to ramp up after the COVID-19 shutdown.”
Novi-based supplier Tremec, which makes the 8-speed dual clutch transmission for the 2020 ‘Vette, is running at the same production rate as the plant, said Michael Kvicala, Tremec’s marketing specialist.
“There are issues across the board with suppliers and it’s not just the Corvette. You don’t just bring both shifts back up when the production was down,” Kelly said. “You have to ramp up. We’re ramping up as we get the suppliers online and everyone online.”
It’s also not just GM. Anyone manufacturing something more complicated than a block of wood faces supply issues at the moment. Your author currently has a bunch of audio equipment on back order for the same reason automakers cannot source sufficient parts. Given the scope of the mess, it’s going to take a while for most industries to regain their footing, and the automotive sector requires more cooperation than most.
The good news is that GM doesn’t intend to recoup money lost on absentee 2020 Corvettes by hiking the price of next year’s model. The base price will stay five bucks below $60,000, with order forms being readied for next month. “We initially said we would start taking 2021 Corvette orders at the end of [May] but, again, due to the plant being down for two months, we’re adjusting that timing to late July,” Tadge Juechter, executive chief engineer for the C8, said at an enthusiast’s event at the Corvette Museum held on May 29th.
Here’s hoping next year is a little kinder than this one.
[Image: General Motors]
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- Mike Beranek Any car whose engine makes less than 300 ft-lbs of torque.
- Malcolm Mini temporarily halted manual transmission production but brought it back as it was a surprisingly good seller. The downside is that they should have made awd standard with the manual instead of nixing it. Ford said recently that 4dr were 7% manual take rate and I think the two door was 15%.
- Master Baiter It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. It will be interesting to see if demand for Ford’s EVs will match the production capacity they are putting on line.
- Brett Woods 2023 Corvette base model.
- Paul Taka Hi, where can I find 1982 Honda prelude junkyards in 50 states
Good, this is what they get for making the C8 as pathetic automatic scum.
Earlier this week I think I saw a C8 in a nearby driveway. And that is a problem to me, I'm not exactly sure what is a Corvette anymore.