If you, like the rest of us, thought all auto manufacturing throughout the world had shut down because of the Coronavirus crisis, think again. Chevy had big profit plans from the new mid-engine Corvette. With the shutdown of the Bowling Green, Kentucky, factory those plans were dashed. But now Chevy admits that 2020 Corvette chassis have been secretly produced during the shutdown.
The plant that makes those 2020 space frames is in Bedford, Indiana
The plant that makes those chassis is in Bedford, Indiana. Chevy says several dozen workers at the plant have been toiling during the pandemic making Corvette chassis. It says the reason production continued is to reduce shortages once Corvette production resumes at Bowling Green.
The frame is actually an aluminum space frame. Many stamped and cast aluminum components go into making one chassis. The space frames are then shipped the 160 miles from Bedford to Bowling Green.
The plant has secretly produced frames running three shifts, 24 hours a day
A Chevy spokesman told the New York Times the plant stayed open around the clock. Three shifts made up of about 20 volunteers per shift cranked out the Corvette chassis. The workers received their regular wages. This is all in anticipation of starting up 2020 Corvette production May 18.
The Bedford plant produces more than just Corvette chassis for GM but manufacturing for those components has been shut down since mid-March. Only the building of the 2020 Corvette chassis was in operation. The UAW says it is aware of the continued production and approves as long as those working do it on a volunteer basis and follow strict safety requirements.
The C8 Corvette has a 16.5% margin of profit-more than twice other GM vehicles
According to Morgan Stanley, the Corvette was expected to bring in $3.3 billion in revenue before the pandemic shut down regular production. Doing the math that means the Corvette has a 16.5% profit margin in a world where 10% is considered a lofty goal. This brings up the big rumor that keeps popping up.
Chevy may have bigger plans for the Corvette brand than just the C8 mid-engine model. Rumors persist that there are plans in the making for a range of Corvettes. Like SUVs and even all-electric vehicles.
When you think about it what GM brand remains relatively untarnished? Not Cadillac. Not Buick. About the only two brands that have the gravitas within the GM umbrella are Chevy trucks and the Corvette. So why not capitalize on both-which GM is doing with Chevy trucks.
The Corvette is GM’s only one-car brand
That leaves Corvette as the only brand that’s a one-car nameplate. Ford is slowly building out Mustangs beyond coupes and convertibles. With the coming Mustang Mach E, it predicts what Chevy might do with the Corvette.
As far as we know there are no plans for the Camaro past 2023. Impalas and Malibus are done. That leaves the Bolt and Corvette in Chevy’s lineup-and trucks, of course. We could see a day when Cadillac’s efforts could be redirected into Corvette variants. It would be a slow phase-out of the struggling Cadillac with those resources shifted to the Corvette brand.
There will be a major push to build 2020 C8 Corvettes when the shutdown ends
But while the Corvette becoming its own brand of vehicle is pure speculation, the plans for profit from the new C8 are very real. It appears they are so real that GM wanted a backlog of chassis. That would indicate a major push to produce 2020 Corvettes at a lightning pace.
This dispels false rumors that no more 2020 Corvettes would be made. That instead production after May 18 would be 2021 models. With frames being made throughout the pandemic it seems Chevy would do whatever it takes to be poised to start cranking out 2020 Corvettes as fast as possible before the model changeover for 2021 models happens in September.