Will the UAW strike delay the C8 Corvette?
Sports car enthusiasts waited decades for the creation of the mid-engine Corvette. Now it looks like they’ll have to wait a little longer to actually get their hands on one.
Multiple media outlets have reported that the current United Auto Workers strike, now in its 23rd day, will delay the production and launch of the eighth-generation Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. When General Motors and UAW finally reach an agreement, GM will be playing catch-up on current C7 orders; then, its Bowling Green (Kentucky) Assembly Plant will have to be retooled for the C8.
Dealers could submit orders for the C7 through July 18 if the dealer had allocation available, and Bowling Green Assembly was scheduled to begin C8 production later this year. Although a person familiar with the Bowling Green operations told the Detroit Free Press that “this strike is directly going to affect the start of regular production for the mid-engine Corvette,” a GM spokesman would not confirm a delay.
“As we’ve previously stated, Chevrolet Corvette Stingray production begins in late 2019 and convertible production follows in late first-quarter 2020,” the spokesman told the Detroit Free Press. “It’s too early to speculate on production timing impacts on any of our vehicles due to the UAW work stoppage.”
Approximately 46,000 UAW workers went on strike nationwide on September 16. That strike has had a domino effect at other GM facilities. Last week, GM shut down its factory in Silao, Mexico, which builds 2020 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, a move that idled 6000 workers. On Monday, GM partially halted production at its engine plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, putting 415 more employees out of work, but the scaled-down work force continues to build GM vehicles that are completely assembled there.
Parts suppliers in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico have also been affected. The Detroit News reported that 100-plus auto suppliers have enacted 12,000 temporary layoffs, citing data provided by the Original Equipment Suppliers Association. According to The News, East Lansing’s Anderson Economic Group estimates the walkout of hourly GM employees has led to $412 million in lost direct wages from strikers and suppliers during the first three weeks.
Even after the strike is settled, OESA CEO Julie Fream warns, “Given the low U.S. unemployment rates and a shortage of skilled trades workers, companies may be challenged to ensure laid-off employees return to their previous positions. Upon conclusion of the strike, this could cause extended disruption in the supply chain as suppliers ramp up their production.”
The UAW walkout is GM’s longest since 1970, when workers picketed for 67 days, and recent negotiations have not been fruitful. In a letter to local leaders on Sunday, UAW Vice President Terry Dittles summed up a tumultuous weekend by writing that talks had taken a “turn for the worst.” That’s bad news for GM workers, parts suppliers, and C8 buyers, who won’t see their highly anticipated mid-engine Corvette anytime soon.