Corvette Plant Manager Kai Spande recently visited with Chuck Clenney from Lexington Community Radio’s Bluegrass Bios and recorded this interview in the garage at the National Corvette Museum. You can listen to the full 47-minute interview which covers a range of topics from personal experiences to the latest 2019 Corvette ZR1 news.
Kai touches on the nearly $1 billion in renovations to the plant and makes the case that it’s also an investment in the state of Kentucky. During the recent downtime, he says the company spent $1.5 million per day for 100 days in making renovations to the plant. The successful relaunch of the car is underway which includes all new Corvettes now having their body panels coming out of the new paint shop.
As far as the 2019 Corvette ZR1 is concerned, Kai says that a batch of pre-production ZR1s was recently send up to Michigan for additional testing. He says the 2019 Corvette ZR1 will be unveiled in North America at an invitation-only event at the LA Auto Show. (Our sources say it will be held the evening of Tuesday, November 28th). Kai tells Bluegrass Bios that the ZR1 will begin retail production about 3-4 weeks after the 2019 model year changeover which happens on January 29, 2018. So the first Corvette ZR1s should start production around the first of March. Kai also says that the ZR1 was a big reason why the 2019 model year was moved up. (We maintain it has to do with wiping the slate with 2018’s interrupted production and starting with a fresh model year now that the plant renovations are complete.)
Kai also predicts that the 2019 Corvette ZR1 will be limited in the 2018 calendar year with less than 2000 made. Although pricing isn’t yet released, Kai makes the comparison that a highly optioned Corvette Z06 can run as much as $120,000 and he anticipates the 2019 Corvette ZR1 will be “up around $150,000…maybe more”.
One of the stories to come out of the interview has Kai talking about how he was able to take the new Corvette ZR1 home one evening now that the car had been unveiled to the public. He says that unfortunately, it turned out to be wet and cold that night. With the Michelin winter tires on the ZR1 for safety purposes, it wasn’t quite the heart-stopping drive one would expect out of Chevrolet’s new 755-hp supercar. Does it measure up to Corvette’s legacy as an everyday car? We don’t know about that, but Kai says he and his wife did use the Corvette ZR1 as a grocery getter to load up on food and supplies for the Thanksgiving weekend.
One last story from the interview. Kai talks about some of the previous Corvettes he has owned. After getting his first job at General Motors, Kai purchased a 1978 Silver Anniversary Corvette. He has also done a frame-off restoration of a 1965 big block convertible and once owned a 1969 Corvette with a 435-hp V8. When asked about his favorite model of all time, he claims if he had to pick one, it would be a big block midyear Corvette. “The more power the better for me…and side pipes and a convertible, I mean you can’t go wrong,” says Spande.
Lexington Community Radio
[VIDEO] Corvette Assembly Plant Update with Kai Spande
We’re Headed to the LA Auto Show to See the 2019 Corvette ZR1s and You’re Invited!
Oliver Gavin Says He’s Lapped the Nurburgring in the 2019 Corvette ZR1…And Will Be Back in 2018 To Do It Again!