A new generation of the Chevrolet Corvette, the C8, will be unveiled on July 18, and in anticipation of the car's arrival General Motors is expanding capacity at its Bowling Green Assembly plant in Kentucky, which is home to Corvette production.
GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra in a plant presentation on Thursday announced that a second shift and over 400 jobs would be added to support production of the new Corvette, which arrives for 2020 and sees the nameplate move to a mid-engine layout for the first time. The influx of workers will see the plant's staff numbers swell to more than 1,300.
The extra shift suggests GM anticipates higher demand for the C8 Corvette, which is expected to be sold globally and offer both left- and right-hand-drive versions. There are also rumors GM will add production of a new high-performance engine at the plant, thought to be a twin-turbocharged V-8.
We should point out that adding jobs at the Bowling Green part at the arrival of a new Corvette has been common with previous generations, as sales of sports cars tend to peak in the first few years of a model's run before dropping off. For example, sales of the current C7 Corvette in the United States and Canada topped 35,000 units in its first full year on the market and about 20,000 units in 2018.
GM has invested more than $900 million in the Bowling Green plant since 2011. This includes investments towards a new body shop, new paint shop, and additional plant upgrades. There's also been more capacity added to the Performance Build Center, a facility for production of high-performance engines that was integrated with the Bowling Green plant in 2013.
While the original C1 Corvette was unveiled in 1953, the Bowling Green plant was only opened in 1981. Since then more than a million Corvettes have rolled off the line there.
“The Corvette’s iconic status owes so much to the men and women of Bowling Green, where it has been built exclusively for almost 40 years,” Barra said at the announcement. “This is the workforce that can deliver a next generation Corvette worthy of both its historic past and an equally exciting future, and today’s announcement gets us one step closer to its reveal on July 18.”
Before the arrival of the new Corvette, GM will auction off the final C7, a black Z06, for charity. The sale of the final Corvette with an engine mounted up front will take place on June 28 at Barrett-Jackson's auction in Connecticut.
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