The good news is that the Bowling Green Assembly Plant will soon be making brand new mid-engine Corvettes again. The bad news is that it won’t immediately be at full steam when production resumes in two weeks.
While the Tonawanda engine plant will reopen in New York on May 18, Bowling Green won’t follow suit until May 26, according to GM.
“The focus for employees returning to work will be on our new safety protocols as a result of COVID-19 (the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus),” Trevor Thompkins, communications coordinator for GM’s North American Manufacturing and Labor, said in an email to the Bowling Green Daily News. “We will conduct detailed safety orientation sessions to ensure everyone understands GM’s safety system and can ask questions.”
GM CEO Mary Barra told analysts in a conference call last week that the restart at GM plants will start with a single shift and then build up to two or three shifts based on demand. That means the long-awaited second shift at Bowling Green won’t be working, at least in the beginning, despite overwhelming demand for the car.
Production of the much-praised 2020 Stingray has been delayed twice already – first by a 40-day UAW strike late last year and then again for more than two months by the COVID-19 lockdown.
One “Negative Nancy” industry analyst isn’t sure so sure 2020 will be the big year everyone expected the Corvette would enjoy.
“The COVID-19 outbreak is having a devastating effect on every automaker around the globe, including General Motors and every vehicle it produces,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Atlanta-based Cox Automotive. “The launch of the Corvette was to have been an exciting time.”
Krebs says the automotive industry in general has been hit hard by the effects of the virus, and that could even extend to the Corvette.
“The big question when this is over,” he said, “is will people still want to buy the Corvette? GM has some orders in hand, but we do anticipate sports cars – very discretionary purchases – will take time to gain some traction.”
We might agree with her if this was a year ago and the C7 was still being produced, but we expect the excitement over the revolutionary mid-engine Corvette to pick up right where it left off when Bowling Green starts putting 2020s together again. For every “Negative Nancy” customer who drops out because of the economic effects of the virus, there are likely to be two or three more waiting to fill that slot.
Unfortunately, that negative attitude even extended to UAW Local 2163 President Jack Bowers, who texted the Daily News: “We all have concerns. I don’t think anything is worth risking your life for.”
He said some of the Bowling Green workers are eager to get back to work “and some aren’t.”
“I understand the need to make money, so workers are kind of in the middle of the road about resuming production,” Bowers said.
Let’s hope they quickly get fired up about getting back on the job and put this virus where it belongs – in the new rear vision mirror of the Corvette.
Bowling Green Daily News
General Motors To Restart the Tonawanda Engine Plant on May 18th
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