New Corvettes roll off the Bowling Green assembly line in 2015. Photo courtesy General Motors.
On July 28, production at GM’s Bowling Green Assembly Plant, home of the Chevrolet Corvette, was halted for a 90-day period to install updated machinery and finish construction of the facility’s elaborate new $500-million paint shop. Now, as the Bowling Green Daily News (via Corvette Blogger) reports, the plant is expected to reopen to employees – but not visitors – on November 6.
Corvette fans who simply want to tour the plant will need to be patient. Per the Bowling Green Assembly Plant website, “Plant tours are unavailable as of June 16, 2017, and may resume at a future date.” The National Corvette Museum, now tasked with administrating the guided walks, is a bit more upbeat and informative, saying, “Plant tours are unavailable and resume in 2019.”
The updates to the plant have changed workflow, and employees will be reporting back throughout October and into November depending upon retraining requirements. The revised build process for Corvette models is expected to improve ergonomics for workers, and the end product should be higher in quality as well. The new paint shop, for example, is said to be better-equipped to finish carbon-fiber panels than its predecessor, while also reducing the plant’s overall environmental impact.
Bowling Green Assembly may be slated to reopen on November 6, but production of 2018 Corvettes bound for dealers isn’t expected to resume until November 20, identified by Corvette Blogger as the first Target Production Week for new Corvette orders. The plant will continue to build the current 2018 model year Corvette though January 22, 2018, at which time it will shut for a week to prepare for 2019 Corvette assembly.
Sales of the current Corvette are down from previous years, running roughly 17-percent behind last year for the U.S. market through September. One potential reason is the rash of rumors – now supported by spy photographs – that the 2019 Corvette will be a mid-engine design, or will include a mid-engine model variant. Expect Chevrolet to remain tight-lipped about any new Corvette models (and hence, the resumption of Bowling Green plant tours) until early 2018.