General Motors stops taking orders for the mid-engine 2020 Chevrolet Corvette
- Orders for the 2020 Corvette Stingray, Chevrolet's mid-engine sports car decades in the making, have been cut short and are closed as of Wednesday.
- General Motors confirmed the order closure to Business Insider, saying it was due to "overwhelming demand" and the United Auto Workers strike of late 2019.
- Orders for the 2021 Corvette will open in May, GM said.
- GM told Business Insider that the abrupt order closure wasn't due to the company suspending US production amid the coronavirus pandemic, which was announced on the same day.
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The eighth-generation "C8" Chevrolet Corvette was meant to be an iconic rebirth of a car that's been around since the 1950s, courtesy of a fundamental change in the works for almost as long: the relocation of the engine, from in front of the driver to behind them.
But that rebirth has been cut short, at least for this model year. General Motors confirmed to Business Insider that, effective Wednesday, orders for the 2020 Corvette are closed.
"Due to an overwhelming demand for the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, Chevrolet has decided to stop taking sold orders after March 18, 2020," a GM spokesperson said. "Chevrolet dealers will begin taking orders for the 2021 Corvette in late May."
The statement comes after Autoblog discovered a Corvette Forum post from Wednesday morning with a screenshot of an apparent email sent to Corvette dealerships, instructing them to suspend orders beginning that day. The email cited the weeks-long United Auto Workers strike that occurred late last year, and said 2021 Corvette orders would be available earlier than planned to enable dealers and customers "to create a replacement" order.
"Regretfully, launch timing was delayed by the 6-week work stoppage that reduced the 2020 Model Year production schedule," the apparent email read. "Therefore, it is possible some of your 2020 orders, sold or stock may not be produced as planned.
"Further information will be forthcoming from Chevrolet regarding the handling of sold 2020 Model Year that we will be unable to accept, and the creation of a replacement 2021 Model Year sold order."
When asked about the veracity of the email screenshot, the GM spokesperson said the company "did send an email to [its] dealers this morning." The email came on the same day that the company suspended US production through at least March 30 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but the GM spokesperson said that wasn't to blame for order closures - even with the odd timing.
"This is due to customer demand and the previous work stoppage," the spokesperson said, despite the strike ending in October. "Latest developments did not play a role."
Over the years, the mid-engine Corvette has become an urban legend of sorts, with magazines talking about its impending debut for decades despite the car never coming until now.
But the arrival of the C8 Corvette in its base Stingray form has been less of a triumphant, historic rebirth more than 60 years in the making and more of a barrage of bad timing, with the UAW strike blamed for production delays that ran several months. As CNET reported at the time, the first deliveries of the car were slated for the end of 2019, but production didn't begin until February 3.
Then, earlier in March, news and lifestyle site Corvette Blogger called attention to a recent forum conversation in which a user mentioned that their upcoming Corvette dealer training had been canceled in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Those cancellations are a big deal, because not all Chevrolet dealerships can sell the Corvette - the company requires any dealer that wants to retail the car to go through a certification process, including purchasing special tools and participating in a dealer training at its Spring Mountain driving school. Those that opt in, thus, get a "Corvette Certified Dealer" banner under their names and Corvettes on their lots.
Business Insider asked GM about Corvette trainings being on hold during the pandemic, including how many dealerships are in the waiting queue and how soon the company expects to be able to get them trained and certified after things pick back up. GM did not answer those questions.
But they're certainly on hold, just like much of the rest of the world - and just like the 2020 Corvette, whose historic entry onto the car market hasn't gone quite as planned.
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