The latest on the right-hand-drive C8.
A few months ago a report arrived claiming General Motors had decided to abandon the right-hand-drive Chevrolet Corvette program due to coronavirus-related concerns. Switching the driver's seat to the passenger's seat may sound relatively simple but it can actually be quite a process. That process was supposedly no longer a high priority for the automaker. But that was then and today there's an official update on the subject.
A virtual presentation hosted by Carlisle Events was recently held and attendees included Chevrolet Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter and product manager Harlan Charles. When asked about the subject of a RHD Vette, Juechter opted not to go by the standard "we can't discuss future product" PR tagline. Instead, he answered the question directly.
"Yes, some of us are actually driving them around… it's very strange to be driving a Corvette with the steering wheel on the right-hand side. We've built some and we'll be doing some of our preproduction testing now in the US."
The RHD market is actually quite big and presents a huge money-making opportunity for the brand. Aside from the UK and Australia, other countries include New Zealand, India, South Africa, and Japan.
In fact, Japan has already proven itself. "The car sold out almost immediately in Japan when we introduced it [at January Tokyo Auto Show]," Juechter added. "That will be our first foray into right-hand drive." Juechter, who has been chief engineer of the Corvette program since 2006, is not only a truly nice guy but also has the best interests of Corvette owners at heart. This is evident in RHD development.
"In our car, everything is driver-focused, everything is angled towards the driver, the cockpit wraps around you, and so when you do a right-hand drive, we didn't want to dumb that down," he explained. "We wanted those customers to have the same exact experience whether it's Japan, UK, Australia. We wanted them to have the same driver-focused interior and so what we actually did was tool-up all those unique parts that are kind of mirror shaped so that we can flip them over to the other side and it would just be an exact mirror of the rest of the world's car, the left-hand drive cars."
Charles chimed in by saying he particularly digs the Australian market C8 because the navigation system voice even has an Aussie accent.
The RHD C8 market launch is now expected sometime in 2021.