By on June 17, 2020

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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25 Comments on “C8 Corvette Production Seems Cursed...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The inventory situation for the Corvette has changed markedly since last year, when there was over 7 months’ worth. Now it’s less than 1 week of inventory for all years, and the 2020 inventory is only a few dozen cars.

    Bad times indeed. At least Chevy has a desirable product that will move once it’s available.

  • avatar

    C8s and late C7s are tomorrow’s collectibles, get them while you can. GM may not survive what’s coming.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t see GM going away, especially if Biden is POTUS and/or both branches of Congress are Dem controlled.

      The UAW jobs are sacred to Dems.

      They have the whole playbook from 2009, including Rattner to be the qb.

      • 0 avatar

        “The UAW jobs are sacred to Dems”
        Really? Because Dems sure do seem to like globalism, “free” trade, off-shoring, the “knowledge” economy; and don’t mind skipping PA, OH, MI, and WI on the campaign schedule. :-/

      • 0 avatar

        You might recall that the auto bailouts started under George W. Bush, who, last I checked, is not a Democrat and was not beholden to UAW votes. Bush started bailouts because he didn’t want the economy to go any further down the drain than it already was. It was the right move.

    • 0 avatar

      For once owners jumping at the chances to be the “first” actually got something nobody else will get: a 2020 C8. The production run is going to be very low by modern Corvette standards. Not on purpose GM has created a collectors item.

      And yes 2019 C7s are basically gone, only 300 remain. Some states have 0 left. Almost no manuals either.

  • avatar

    Easy solution. Set up another assembly line in a tent.

    • 0 avatar

      If they’re only running one shift at Bowling Green because of component shortages, adding another line is probably not very effective. BTW do the tent built Teslas have any identifying logos? Will those be a collector item in 2050?

    • 0 avatar

      Once demand catches up it will be back down to one shift at Bowling Green anyway, always was, at least since I worked there in 84/85!Line speed was 12 jobs/hour x 2 shifts, after 18 months that was it for 2 shifts!

      • 0 avatar

        The only GM plant I ever toured (of many) where most of the workers seemed happy working on the line.

        • 0 avatar

          We looked very happy in 84/85, I could do my job then quickly work back and do a 2nd job, then sit down/stand/go on a potty break for almost 4 minutes!When I got laid off in 86 they added an additional amount of work to compensate for my speed!I had a very labor intensive job in trim but was always finding an easier and faster way of implementing it!

    • 0 avatar

      Build Corvettes under a tent? You have no clue how cars are manufactured, do you?

    • 0 avatar

      Has anything truly useful ever occurred in a tent? Really – ever?

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    I saw a blue C8 in my Southern Alberta town of 25,000 people. Just once, mind. It was likely a tourist from The Big City.

  • avatar

    Upside is, the more time goes by, the more time for people to get used to the rather “controversial” styling.

    I think it looks better now, than when they first released it and it looked like an affront to all that the Corvette has always been about.

  • avatar

    “Anyone manufacturing something more complicated than a block of wood faces supply issues at the moment.”

    I’m currently on the lookout for three standard pressure-treated landscape timbers – just three. Not happening unless I want to drive to another county.

    • 0 avatar

      3D Printing/additive manufacturing has been a huge advantage for me. I’m working with a mechanical designer on some components. He’s in the UK. I’ll ask for a change, he’ll make it, then send me the files. I then print it out here in the good old US of A. No waiting for shipping. No money to China. For strength, metal powder or carbon fiber infused plastic is available. For some things like bearing balls and steel cables, I still have to go to a supplier. Right now I’m stuck waiting for some capacitors.

      I’m even making some household items that you’d normally buy from walmart and are made in china. In fact, the computer I’m using at this moment had it’s circuit board made in Pencoed Technology Park in South Wales, UK. I made it’s case and stand here in the US where final assembly happened.

      • 0 avatar

        In the next few hours I should be receiving a “Lisle 62200 Heater Hose Coupler Remover” – because GM thought it would be a good idea to make the “quick connect” heater hose connections on my C1500 out of very porous pot metal.

        It’s pretty good when you can develop and sell a specialized tool just to work around ‘Big 3’ blind spots.

        The replacement connectors (already on hand) are real steel – from China of course.

        At a high school graduation dinner a few years ago, one of the moms said she read that 3D printing is effectively the most significant technological advance in recent history. I thought for a minute and had to agree.

  • avatar

    I wonder if the ghost of Zora Arkus-Duntov has something to do with this “curse?” Or not!

  • avatar

    Good, this is what they get for making the C8 as pathetic automatic scum.

  • avatar

    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.

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