General Motors CEO Mary Barra announced today that the Bowling Green, Kentucky, plant where the Corvette is built will add a second shift and more than 400 hourly jobs as part of the facility’s transition to building the next-generation, mid-engine C8 Corvette. Barra delivered the news at the Bowling Green factory, which has produced more than a million Corvettes since 1981.
“The Corvette’s iconic status owes so much to the men and women of Bowling Green, where it has been built exclusively for almost 40 years,” Barra said. “This is the workforce that can deliver a next generation Corvette worthy of both its historic past and an equally exciting future.”
According to Bloomberg, some of the additional workforce will come from plants like the one in Lordstown that are at risk of shutting down.
The final front-engine C7 Corvette, a black Z06, will roll off the production line in Kentucky this summer, debunking previous rumors that the current Stingray would be sold alongside the next-generation Vette. GM will reveal the mid-engine C8 on July 18.
Why exactly GM needs to add a second shift to support the C8’s launch isn’t clear, but it’s possible the switch to a new mid-engine layout will add a degree of complexity to the assembly process.
At this point details on the C8 remain slim. Based on a leaked configuration summary sheet in March, it looks like the new mid-engine Vette will use a V-8 engine with an “LT2” designation—this engine is likely an evolution of the current 6.2-liter, 460-hp LT1 V-8 in the C7 Stingray, albeit with 500+ horses. The base C8 will likely feature direct injection, active fuel management, variable valve timing, and it will be paired with a seven- or eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. No word yet on a manual transmission, but we wouldn’t be shocked if Chevy dropped it altogether for the Corvette. Future powertrains in the C8 could include a hybrid variant that powers the front wheels, as well as a twin-turbo V-8 model with a rumored 900–1000 hp.
We’ll know more as July creeps up, but for now it’s clear that GM is gearing up to finally build the mid-engine Corvette, and that it is investing significant resources to do so. Since 2011, GM has poured $900 million into the plant, allocated to everything from engine capacity to a new paint shop, new body shop, new Performance Build Center, and other upgrades.