There is a great deal of excitement surrounding the Start of Regular Production (SORP) for the 2020 Corvette Stingray, and no one could be more excited about this than me! It’s been several years since I was placed on Mike Furman’s C8 Corvette order list and, in just a few days, my 20th Corvette will come rolling off the assembly line at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant. This Corvette is also my 50th Birthday present to myself and I can’t wait for the call from the Shane in the National Corvette Museum’s Delivery Department notifying me that it’s time to schedule my R8C Museum Delivery!
With photos of 2020 Corvettes covered in white transport covers sitting in the Bowling Green Assembly Plant’s shipping lot, as well as photos of 2020 Corvettes being shipped via car haulers, the following question has been asked on social media more times than I can count: did production of the 2020 C8 Corvette already begin? The technical answer to this question can be found in a previous CorvetteBlogger article that explains the various pre-production cars that are built before regular production begins. All of the 2020 Corvettes we’ve seen in photos so far are pre-production cars.
What myself and thousands of others with 2020 Corvette orders want to know is this: has regular production of the 2020 Corvette begun? The answer is both “yes” and “no.” Before you think I’ve lost my mind due to the extended wait time for my 2020 Corvette to finally become reality, let me explain the production process in detail.
When a Corvette order has been accepted by GM, it moves to Event Code 2000 (Accepted by GM) and, not long after, to Event Code 3000 (Accepted by Production Control). Before the strike, my order moved to Event Code 3000 at the end of September with a TPW (Target Production Week) of December 2. The week of December 2 was also originally scheduled to be the Start of Regular Production (SORP). We all know that the strike created a significant delay in the 2020 Corvette’s production, but eventually it became clear that the new SORP would be February 3, 2020. Now, take a look at the original time frame from when my order was accepted by production control (Event Code 3000) and my initial TPW (December 2). For discussion purposes, let’s consider this as a two-month production window.
The Bowling Green Assembly Plant (BGA) is exactly what the name indicates. It’s the place where all of the parts required to make a Corvette are assembled. But where do the various parts come from? Of course, we know they come from a host of suppliers. Shortly after a Corvette order moves to Event Code 3000, the many parts that will be required in order to assemble that particular Corvette are ordered from the various suppliers. The plant sends orders to the suppliers for the body panels, seats, carpet, electrical components, wheels, etc., and the suppliers begin to fulfill these orders. In the purest sense, the production of a new Corvette begins when the suppliers begin to produce the requested parts and components. As such, production of customer ordered 2020 Corvettes began months ago.
Reports surfaced yesterday that regular 2020 Corvette production had begun yesterday because known customer ordered cars were now at some stage on the assembly line. This was and is exciting news! However, significant production elements take place inside the Bowling Green Assembly Plant well before that which happens on the General Assembly line (GA). Based on information shared by plant management during various Bowling Green Assembly Update Seminars over the last two years, we know that body panels are painted approximately one to two weeks prior to assembly. In addition, the aluminum frame for each Corvette is assembled in the BGA’s Body Shop. At that time, the cockpit for each Corvette is assembled on the Cockpit Subassembly Line, and then installed in the frame assembly. This all takes place prior to General Assembly on the General Assembly line (GA). If we think of production as what takes place at the plant, then the production of customer ordered 2020 Corvettes began sometime last week.
The process of customer ordered Corvettes being assembled on the GA is the basis for some stating that regular 2020 Corvette production has begun. Personally, I think this is the most exciting part of the production process! I’ve been on three C7 Corvette Buyer’s Tours to watch the entire General Assembly portion of a new Corvette build and, if the program was ready for 2020 Corvette production, I’d be headed to Bowling Green to watch the assembly of my 2020 Corvette. In a nutshell, the frame with cockpit assembly moves through Trim, then on to Chassis I where the marriage of the frame and chassis takes place. The Engine Dress line feeds into the Chassis Subassembly where the chassis is assembled and then mated with the frame as it passes by. Chassis II is next, followed by Skillet I and Skillet II where the body panels are installed. The Corvette then moves through Chassis III where wheels are installed and fluid reservoirs are filled. Wheels touch down for the first time in the Final Line before it is started and driven off the line. From here, the new Corvette goes through Alignment, DVT (Dynamic Vehicle Test), a Water Intrusion Test, and final Quality Control Inspection.
That leads us to a final question about when production actually begins. Namely, at what point does GM consider regular production of the 2020 Corvette to have begun? GM refers to this as SORP, or Start of Regular Production, and it takes place when the first regular production 2020 Corvette rolls off the assembly line, allowing GM to move that particular Corvette order to Event Code 3800 (Produced).
When will the first customer ordered 2020 Corvette come off the assembly line, signaling the start of regular production? While some customer ordered cars are reportedly at some point along the General Assembly line, keep in mind that the build rate is likely still under initial ramp up and not at full speed quite yet. The plant’s number one priority is quality control, and a slow start up allows for the assembly process to be highly scrutinized. Personally, I’m glad they are taking their time to make sure that each new 2020 Corvette that comes off the line is the best Corvette the plant has ever assembled. That said, we believe VIN 5100001, the very first regular production Mid-Engine Corvette, purchased for $3,000,000 by Mr. Rick Hendrick to benefit the Detroit Children’s Fund, will roll off the line on schedule the morning of Monday, February 3, 2020.
I’m not sure I’ve answered the question about regular production and when it began…or will begin. So here’s my final answer: yes, regular production began months ago, but it also began last week, then it began yesterday on the General Assembly line, and finally, an equivocal no, it will begin when the first regular production 2020 Corvette rolls off the assembly line. Whatever the answer, one thing is certain…those who have a 2020 Corvette on order are one day closer to realizing their dream of owning Corvette’s Grand Slam Mid-Engine Masterpiece!