Waiting to buy that hot new 2020 mid-engine Corvette? Keep waiting

Waiting to buy that hot new 2020 mid-engine Corvette? Keep waiting

Some Corvette fans awaiting the arrival of their pre-ordered mid-engine 2020 Stingrays will likely be disappointed.

"We are not going to build all of the 2020 orders," GM spokesman Kevin Kelly said, adding that GM would work with affected customers and dealers to offer a 2021 option.

Blame it on the coronavirus pandemic causing GM to shut down its U.S. plants for nearly seven weeks. Then, there are subsequent parts supplier complications too, Kelly said. The complexity of ramping up production prevents GM from even guessing how many of the sports cars it will be able to build this year.

GM had 20,181 orders through May 1, Kelly said. In the first quarter, the company reported selling 3,820 Corvettes. Kelly said most were the new 2020 model.

"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 told the Free Press. "The plant is still coming up from COVID. We still haven’t brought up the second shift yet, so we’re still ramping up.”

Waiting to buy that hot new 2020 mid-engine Corvette? Keep waiting

No price hike for Corvette

The 2020 Corvette Stingray is the first mid-engine production car in Corvette history. Chevrolet engineers and designers wanted to make a mid-engine ‘Vette since at least 1960. So to enthusiasts, the car is already legendary. It's won nearly every major new car award since it debuted last year.

In fact, in January, Corvette collector and car dealer Rick Hendrick paid $3 million at the Barrett-Jackson auction for the first one to roll off the line. He told the Free Press then that his stores had about 1,000 pre-orders for the 2020 Corvette. He stopped taking any more orders because he knew it would be a few years before the existing ones are filled.

Waiting to buy that hot new 2020 mid-engine Corvette? Keep waiting

The good news is that the Corvette Stingray will not get a price hike next year. The base price remains $59,995, Kelly said. The convertible version will hold at $67,495. GM said customers can start ordering the 2021 cars late next month.

Extending production of Stingray

GM's chief engineer for the Corvette shared this news May 29 with some enthusiasts at an event at the Corvette Museum, which sits next to GM's Bowling Green plant in Kentucky. GM assembles the Corvette at the plant.

"We initially said we would start taking 2021 Corvette orders at the end of this month (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 Corvette, said at the event.

Waiting to buy that hot new 2020 mid-engine Corvette? Keep waiting

In February, GM started shipping the 2020 'Vettes to dealerships, but those cars go directly to the customers who pre-ordered them, Kelly said. So good luck finding one sitting in a showroom.

Here are the highlights GM's Juechter shared at the May 29 event:

  • GM will continue to build the 2020 Corvette Stingray through the fall, an extension of what it had originally planned.
  • The extension will help ensure that GM builds most — not all — of the 2020 Corvette orders it received.
  • GM declined to specify the exact number of 2020 models it will build or how many will be coupes versus convertibles.
  • GM will start building the convertible this summer, but declined to provide specific dates because the plant just came back up.

Working hand-in-hand

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.

"We’re hitting our quantities that they were requesting," Kvicala told the Free Press. "We work hand-in-hand with those guys and they know everything we’re doing."

GM's Kelly could not say when GM would add a second shift at the plant nor would he specify the supplier complications delaying GM's addition of a second shift, saying only, "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. You have to ramp up. We're ramping up as we get the suppliers online and everyone online."