DETROIT — General Motors’ much-anticipated Chevrolet 2020 Corvette Stingray will be delayed going to market because of the UAW strike, the Free Press has learned.
Two people familiar with GM’s production plans said the automaker will have to delay the production and launch of eighth-generation Corvette as it works to catch up on production of the current model and retool the plant to prepare to build the new model. Neither of those two things can happen as scheduled because of the strike.
GM’s Bowling Green Assembly in Kentucky was scheduled to start building the car late this year, and while some production could still occur, the plant won’t get up to speed quickly.
A spokesman for GM said, “As we’ve previously stated, Chevrolet Corvette Stingray production begins in late 2019 and convertible production follows in late first-quarter 2020. It’s too early to speculate on production timing impacts on any of our vehicles due to the UAW work stoppage.”
But a person familiar with operations at Bowling Green Assembly said, “I know for a fact that this strike is directly going to affect the start of regular production for the midengine Corvette.”
That’s because the plant still must fulfill orders for the current model Corvette, dubbed the C7.
Then, the factory must undergo a tooling change to build the midengine car. GM had planned to idle the plant this week and next to retool it.
“That can’t happen because the plant hasn’t finished production of the current generation Corvette,” the person said.
The midengine model is the biggest change to the Corvette’s design in the car’s 66-year history. GM started taking preorders for the Corvette in August and dedicated a “concierge” team to answer customer inquiries about the sports car, which starts at $59,995.
About 46,000 UAW workers went on strike nationwide at GM facilities at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 16.
The strike is having an impact on GM production in other ways. On Monday, GM partially idled an engine plant in its Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, because of the U.S. strike.
The plant is still building engines for vehicles assembled at the site, which is still running. GM builds the Chevrolet Blazer and Equinox SUVs at the plant. The partial shutdown impacted 415 of the propulsion plant’s 2,100 employees, the spokesman said.
Last week, GM idled its factory in Silao, Mexico, that builds its profitable 2020 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups. That impacted 6,000 workers in Mexico.
An estimated 10,000 workers in Mexico, Canada and at U.S. parts suppliers have been laid off because of the strike.
After a week of scheduled down time, GM’s CAMI plant in Ontario, where it also builds the Chevrolet Equinox, was back up running Monday, GM said.
Some Chevrolet dealers remain optimistic that Corvette production will continue as planned.
“They were supposed to start production in the first part of December and that’s still a ways away,” said Chevrolet dealer Tommy Brasher, owner of Brasher Motor Co. in Weimar, Texas.
Brasher said he has sold “a couple” of the cars in preorders.