Could the much-ballyhooed right-hand drive mid-engine Corvette be a victim of COVID-19, too?
That’s the speculation this week from an Aussie website called CarAdvice, which is reporting that General Motors is reconsidering the viability of the RHD Stingray.
In fact, CarAdvice says a leaked internal document from Michelle Braun, GM’s executive director in charge of program management, indicates a temporary stop on all future car and truck development, including the Corvette.
CarAdvice says its sources give it “little to no chance” that the new RHD Corvette will be on sale in Australia in the first half of next year as once planned – and might be delayed until 2022, even if it happens at all because GM will have to focus on engineering for other higher-selling vehicles that could boost revenue in the aftermath of the coronavirus shutdown.
According to CarAdvice, the virus could not have struck at a worse time for the RHD Corvette program, which it says was in the middle of its engineering work ahead of the start of production late in 2020 or early 2021.
Their “well-placed industry sources in Australia” now believe that chances are “slim to none” that GM will continue with its plans to produce its first-ever factory RHD Corvette.
A source with intimate knowledge of the RHD program told CarAdvice: “When General Motors comes out of this crisis, they will want to allocate their engineering resources to the vehicles that can deliver the biggest profits in the shortest possible time … they need cashflow urgently.”
GM has made no secret of its plans to sell factory-made RHD Corvettes along with other Chevrolets like the Silverado (with the RHD conversions done locally) under the General Motors Special Vehicles (GMSV) banner in Australia. The idea was to rebrand Holden Special Vehicles as GMSV when Holden ends production at the end of this year, though negotiations for such a rebrand are on hold due to the virus.
Unfortunately for Australians, selling RHD Corvettes may not make enough financial sense since the word is GM only planned to sell between 200 and 400 such cars annually.
“Do you really think General Motors is going to allocate engineers to finish off the right-hand-drive Corvette, when those same engineers could be working on another vehicle for the US market that will deliver much bigger profits and sell in much greater volumes?” the CarAdvice source said.
While there is a chance that the cars could still be converted locally, the added cost and complexity would likely make such an idea unlikely, CarAdvice says, “given the likely high price and limited sales opportunity for a niche vehicle.”
CarAdvice believes the target price originally was between $120,000 and $140,000, but a local conversion would likely increase that closer to $200,000.
As always, General Motors isn’t commenting about any future programs, including the RHD Corvette, so we’ll just have to wait and see how the RHD program plays out in the real post-coronavirus world.
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