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GM Suspends Orders of 2020 Corvette Amid Plant Shut Down

GM Temporarily Suspends Production of the Mid-Engine Corvette at their Bowling Green Assembly Plant

Employees at the General Motors Bowling Green Assembly Plant were notified Thursday night that the plant – which operates on two shifts and with approximately 1,400 employees – will be temporarily shutting down beginning at the end of business on Friday, March 20th, due to overwhelming concerns about the continuing spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The shutdown of the Bowling Green Assembly Plant is just one of many manufacturing plants across the United States to be closed at the direction of the UAW (United Auto Workers.)  The UAW has urged GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler to shut down all of their plants across the nation as a way of protecting employees and their families from the fast spreading COVID-19 virus.

Media reports have indicated that GM is closing all of its North American manufacturing plants until at least March 30, 2020, and will evaluate the situation on a weekly basis after that time.

Early press photo of the Mid-Engine Corvette prototype at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant in late-summer 2019.
Early press photo of the Mid-Engine Corvette prototype at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant in late-summer 2019.

In Bowling Green, GM Vice President Phil Kienle notified Corvette workers that the plant was shutting down.  In a message to GM employees, Kienle said, “(we are) beginning to suspend manufacturing operations across North America today to help contain the Coronavirus.”

A separate message from the UAW’s Local 2164 Shop Chairman Jason Watson said that there is “not a known or definitive return to work date for our facility, much like other facilities across North America.”

The shutdown comes just 10 days after the Bowling Green plant celebrated delivery of the first of the 2020 Mid-Engine Corvettes to dealerships across the United States.  Today, employees were asked to empty their lockers and refrigerator and take personal items home in preparation for a “deep cleaning” that is scheduled to happen while the plant is shut down.

GM Shuts Down All New Orders for the 2020 Chevy Corvette

“Due to an overwhelming demand for the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, Chevrolet has decided to stop taking sold orders after March 18, 2020.”  This statement was released by Chevrolet, citing heavy demand and limited supply follow the production shutdown caused both by the United Auto Workers strike last fall and the shutdown of GM’s production plants in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

For those interested in purchasing the Mid-Engine C8 Corvette, Chevrolet also stated “Chevrolet dealers will begin taking orders for the 2021 Corvette in late May.”  This announcement means that GM will actually begin accepting orders for the 2021 Corvette on May 21, a full month earlier than previously planned.

The shudown of the plant is not expected to interfere with the dealers’ ability to fill existing orders within their allocation.

One of the first shipments of the 2020 Mid-Engine Corvette to dealerships across the United States.
One of the first shipments of the 2020 Mid-Engine Corvette to dealerships across the United States.

“Regretfully, launch timing was delayed by the six-week work stoppage that reduced the 2020 Model Year production schedule.” GM said in an email statement. “Therefore, it is possible some of your 2020 orders, sold or stock may not be produced as planned.” 

The email went on to explain that, “Further information will be forthcoming from Chevrolet regarding the handling of sold 2020 Model Year that we will be unable to accept, and the creation of a replacement 2021 Model Year sold order.”

Production of the 2021 Corvette models is planned to start September 1, 2020 at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant.  However, it is important to keep in mind that, based on the March 18th announcement of plant closures across the US, it is reasonable to expect that the plant shutdown will last at least thru the end of March, and more realistically, it will be extended into April, suggesting that the Bowling Green Assembly Plant could be facing another six-week shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on the length of this current shutdown, GM may have difficulties fulfilling orders of the 2020 C8 Corvette placed before the March 18th cutoff. 

Only time will tell.