Not everyone is stuck at home.
Automakers across the globe have been shut down for weeks now because of the coronavirus pandemic, though some overseas, including both Ferrari and Lamborghini, have received permission to restart production. In the US, the Detroit automakers are preparing to do the same later this month. However, it appears at least one GM factory has been up and running since March, though with fewer workers than normal.
According to The New York Times, the Bedford, Indiana plant that produces the chassis for the C8 Chevy Corvette continues to run three shifts per day with about 20 people per shift. Though this is down from the usual 250 hourly workers, these 60 employees volunteered to keep going at their usual wages. But why has this particular GM plant been singled out?
Because the Corvette is an important new model for the automaker and keeping this particular operation up and running aims to reduce a chassis shortage. Final Corvette assembly takes place at the Bowling Green, Kentucky plant, but without enough chassis structures on hand, it'd be impossible to build more C8s. A GM spokesperson confirmed to the NY Times that by keeping Bedford up and running even at a limited capacity will help Bowling Green reopen more quickly and successfully.
This same spokesperson also confirmed GM opened another US plant recently for only 10 days in order for workers to return for the specific task to finish building an unnamed SUV before the plant closes temporarily for an overhaul in order to prepare to build a new model. The Corvette chassis assembly line's continued production is significant because it's proof just how important the new C8 is to GM's bottom line.
A Morgan Stanley analysis determined the C8 is vital to GM's long-term strategy as it aims to take advantage of the car's brand name and high customer loyalty while, at the same time, it expands investment and new product into EVs. The Corvette, the analysis stated, is "more than a needle-mover for GM. We're looking at the potential of a hypothetical Corvette brand expansion, into SUV and BEVs, as a way for GM to help fund the transition to electric."
GM predicts the average C8 buyer will spend anywhere from $60,000 to $80,000 on the car, a portion of that being pure profit. If GM wants to expand the Corvette brand into, say, an SUV, as previously rumored, meeting current demand and attracting a new generation of buyers is more vital than ever.