Thread: Corvette Production Takes a Hit
09-15-2008, 11:06 AM #1
Corvette Production Takes a Hit
The automotive recession is even taking its toll on a car often cited as recession-proof: the Chevrolet Corvette.
Full Story: http://www.corvetteactioncenter.com/forums/showthread.php?t=107997
09-16-2008, 12:24 PM #2
GM to slow down plant
On company’s 100th anniversary, about 70 to be laid off, production schedule being reduced
By JENNA MINK, The Bowling Green Daily News, email@example.com/783-3246
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 11:53 AM CDT
General Motors is slowing down production at its Bowling Green assembly plant, cutting production and laying off about 70 employees.
“We regularly look at our production and take it down,” said Tony Sapienza, communications manager for GM. “But it’s unusual for that plant to go down.”
The plant will shut down for a week starting Oct. 6 to move equipment and train employees to slow assembly from 18.5 to 15 vehicles an hour.
“In order to do that we will have to change every job on the production line,” said Andrea Hales, communications manager for the Bowling Green plant.
The plant employs about 800 workers. The potential job cuts will affect hourly paid employees, Hales said.
Layoffs will begin around Oct. 13, said Eldon Renaud, UAW Local 2164 president.
These are the first layoffs at the Bowling Green plant since 1987, when officials cut the second shift production, he said.
“People have transferred here because the Corvette has been economy-proof,” Renaud said. “But in a receding market like we have now, and the fact that people have so many financial worries ... people are saying ‘Well, this is my third or fourth car. Do I need one now?’ ”
Other plants, particularly truck and SUV facilities, announced similar cuts earlier this year, Hales said.
But Sapienzo echoed Renaud, saying that while other products suffer in a down economy, the Corvette tends to stay afloat.
“Historically, the Corvette does well regardless of economic conditions,” he said.
But not this time. High gas prices and the spiraling credit market has hurt luxury vehicles such as the Corvette and Cadillac XLR, which are produced at the Bowling Green plant.
“It’s a matter of disposable income,” Hales said. “A lot of our cuts are (due to) consumers thinking twice and holding on to their money.”
The Corvette is still very strong in the luxury vehicle market, but the entire segment is faltering, Hales said.
According to Motor Trend, Corvette sales have dropped 8.5 percent since the beginning of the year.
The potential layoffs will be plant-wide and not on a particular line, Hales said.
The announcement precedes a 100th anniversary celebration at 1 p.m. today at the plant. Local and state officials were to be on hand to speak at the ceremony.
Renaud said that despite the slow-down, the Bowling Green plant has a bright future ahead.
“I don’t see any problems with this plant,” he said. “I think we’ll be back by spring.”
09-17-2008, 08:08 AM #3
Chevy temporarily halts Corvette production
By JOHN AUSTIN, The Star Telegram
First, high fuel prices take the fun out of driving fast.
Now the economy slams the brakes on Chevrolet’s iconic Corvette.
"It’s a 'miniskirt economy’ car," said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst for Global Insight, an economic research and consulting firm. When the economy’s doing well, skirts get shorter, or so goes the theory. When things slow down, skirts get longer.
"You want to flaunt the idea that you’re doing well," Lindland said. "The Corvette does that better than any other vehicle. But these are not flaunting times."
The news that Chevy will halt production came just as parent General Motors was celebrating its 100th birthday — and as it hits up Congress for billions in low-interest loans. General Motors has announced plans to close other plants, and, after a $15.5 billion second-quarter loss, will drop sponsorship for the 2009 Oscars and Emmys, according to the Los Angeles Times. GM lost about $39 billion in 2007.
The halt on the Corvette, a sports car that generations of Americans have drooled over, is scheduled from Oct. 6 to Oct. 13. Wendy Clark, a Chevy spokeswoman, said she couldn’t recall the last time Corvette production was shut down.
"They just built a few too many," said Haig Stoddard, a Global Insight analyst. "Demand overall is down, and especially for the Corvette. Sales this year are down on the Corvette about 14 percent."
The Bowling Green, Ky., plant that builds the Corvette will see layoffs of about 70 hourly employees, according to plant communications director Andrea Hales. When workers return, they’ll trim production from 18.5 cars an hour to 15 an hour, Hales said.
Production on the Cadillac XLR, also made in Bowling Green, will be halted temporarily beginning in October, Hales said. The Cadillac hardtop shares the Corvette platform.
"With the economy being what it is, with gas prices being what they are, we are seeing the effects of that on the luxury car segment," Hales said. "I would say there’s just a sense of uncertainty."
Chevrolet sold 33,685 Corvettes in 2007, Stoddard said. GM recently made employee pricing available to the public in hopes of moving inventory. Not usually available on Corvettes, the special pricing sliced what Vandergriff Chevrolet dealer Rick Cantalini called "a ton of money" from the car.
The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the 2008 Corvette coupe is $46,100, according to the Motor Trend website . Thanks in part to the employee pricing, August 2008 Corvette sales rose about 49 percent from a year earlier to about 4,000 cars, Clark said.
The pricing, available only on 2008 models, runs through Sept. 30 and would reduce the price of a base model Corvette by about $6,000, taking the final tab to $40,876, Vandergriff Chevrolet general sales manager Bob Clark said.
"In 2007, we built more Corvettes than we’ve ever built," Clark said. "It’s a double-edged sword. We built a lot of cars to meet demand."
Stoddard called the outlook for the rest of the year "pretty poor."
"A lot of people are waiting," he said. "I think when you see your stock portfolio take a dip, you pull back for a while."
A new generation of Corvettes that might lure performance fans back into showrooms is not scheduled to appear for a couple of years. But according to Lindland, many potential customers won’t care until then anyway.
"There’s certainly no sign of recovery," she said. "I don’t think anybody can say things are going to be back to normal in the next four to six quarters."
But Chevy isn’t sidelining the ’vette permanently, Clark said.
"Corvette is probably an optional car for a lot of folks," but, Clark said, "We’re definitely committed to continuing the car."
Terry Malone isn’t worried about new Corvettes. He has a couple of dozen old ones at his Southlake classic car emporium, Corvette World.
"When the market is down, my business is usually up," Malone said. "Now that Lehman Brothers has gone under, it has slowed our business down. A lot of people are going to wait until after the election."
But not Jason Baker, who runs the family’s West Texas oil and cattle business from his home in Clifton, near Waco.
He just wrote a check for something close to $65,000 for a new "jet stream blue" 2008 Corvette coupe with black leather interior. He claims it’s getting about 30 miles per gallon on high-octane gas. Buying American was important to the 28-year-old Army veteran, and he has always loved the styling.
"I’ve had it all the way to 210 with no strain on the engine, on the flat, empty roads of West Texas," Baker said, adding that he hasn’t received a speeding ticket. "All the DPS [troopers] are down on the coast."
But he did spring for a radar detector.
"Every time you pass every officer, they hit you with radar," Baker said. "If you’re going to buy a Corvette, you better buy a radar detector."
JOHN AUSTIN, 817-390-7874
09-17-2008, 08:15 AM #4
Corvette Plant to Cut Some Jobs by October
Posted: 7:32 PM Sep 16, 2008
Last Updated: 7:32 PM Sep 16, 2008
Reporter: Daniel Kemp, WBKO TV
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Some workers at the General Motors Bowling Green Assembly Plant will soon be out of work.
Officials said today the job cuts will take place as early as October.
In 1987, a second shift of employees was cut because they were turning out so many Corvettes it saturated the market.
Now more than 20 years later, 2008 will mark the first lay-offs since.
"For the past 55 years, General Motors has manufactured over 1,490,000 Chevy Corvettes, which has won auto awards year after year for its quality and design," assured Mayor Elaine Walker.
Today, the hard work of so many isn't going unnoticed at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant's 100th anniversary gathering.
But in a tight economy, not all news calls for a celebration.
"We're going to reduce our production to make sure we align it with the expected demand that we see in the near term," explained Paul Graham, plant manager for the Bowling Green Assembly Plant.
On October 13th, the plant will lay off more than 71 workers.
"It's something we don't look forward to doing, but unfortunately given where the marketplace is, we're in the luxury market and it's down about 12-percent this year right now," Graham added.
On top of that, production of the Corvette and Cadillac XLR will slow from 18.5 to 15 vehicles an hour.
"It's the worse it's been in years and in my working life, I've never seen it worse," said Eldon Renaud, president of UAW Local 2164.
Officials say gas prices, sales of cars and a rough credit market are reasons for the cuts.
And those issues will play a factor whether or not there are more
lay-offs to come.
"Every market has ups and downs and we're obviously on the down side right now, but eventually it's going to turn around and come back," Graham said.
Renaud says the lay-offs are indefinite.
He adds he looks for the economy to hopefully turn around by Spring, when sales of Corvettes traditionally pick up.