The seventh-generation Corvette continues to generate good economic news for Bowling Green, Ky.
General Motors said this week it’s started hiring workers at its Corvette assembly plant there. For the first time since the plant opened in 1981, Bowling Green will be tasked with the assembly of engines, but not just any engines. These are the high-performance motors that will power the company’s latest rocket ships, the 2015 Corvette Z06 and the 2014 Camaro Z/28.
It’s all part of a plan by GM to move its Performance Build Center, where the special engines had been assembled in Wixom, Mich., to the Corvette plant in Kentucky.
They’ve already hired 13 new workers, and three others have transferred from Michigan. In all, there could be as many as 17 more new employees, most being hired in the Bowling Green area, needed to run the new engine facility.
“These are new hires, whereas we transferred in almost 400 employees last year for the new (Corvette) C7, who were current GM hourly employees,” plant spokeswoman Andrea Hales said.
They’ll be making some of GM’s most powerful engines ever, including the 6.2-liter LT4 engine that will provide 650 horsepower and 650 ft-lb of torque for the 2015 Corvette Z06 coupe and convertible models that will go on sale late this year or in early 2015.
Bowling Green workers have already started producing the 7.0-liter V8 engine that delivers 505 horsepower and 481 ft-lb of torque for the Z/28. In fact, the first engine shipments left Bowling Green in April, and the Z/28 went on sale the next month at a price of $75,000.
The Bowling Green plant has room for the Performance Build Center in the old body shop, which was vacated when a new body shop was built to make the aluminum frame for the C7.
Customers also can look forward to the day when they can pay extra to actually build their own engine with the help of GM workers.
“We haven’t yet decided when that program will start,” said Monte Doran, GM’s Corvette and Camaro product specialist. “The intention is there; we just haven’t announced the details yet.”
The standard LT1 V8 that is used in the Corvette Stingray will continue to be built at GM’s engine facility in Tonawanda, N.Y. Tonawanda will also build some of the Z06 engines.