FLINT, Mich. – Fussy tailors spend years honing their skills, learning how fabric draped on a body could be pinned, cut and sewn to protect the wearer and make a high-quality fashion statement.
Already stylish cars and trucks like the Corvette Stingray, Cadillac ELR electrified luxury coupe, the new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra HD pickup trucks leave General Motors assembly plants in hand-made covers that fit like the finest tailored suits.
In a collaboration with CoverCar, a unit of Italy-based Confezioni Andrea S.r.l., GM is creating easy-to-install-and-remove custom-fitted fabric covers, replacing the plastic wrap common to vehicle shipping.
The first GM application was for export of the 2013 Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera, followed by the 2014 Corvette Stingray, which ships each copy of the 2014 North American Car of the Year in one of the covers regardless of its final destination. Some Corvette owners keep the single-use covers as souvenirs.
“These covers address an important part of the customer experience, ensuring that vehicles delivered thousands of miles away appear as though they just rolled off the assembly line,” said Noel Hunt, GM manager of international quality.
Last year, CoverCar set up operations in southeast Michigan to work closely with GM, visiting assembly plants to custom-fit covers for the Corvette, the ELR and GM’s redesigned lineup of full-size trucks.
During a recent visit to Flint Assembly, Andrea Tavelli, general manager and head of design for CoverCar, checked the fit of fabric around a rear wheel well on a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado HD before pinning in place a strap to hold the fabric snug to the vehicle. Similar to crafting a fine suit, the Silverado’s cover was adorned with markings, indicating where the tailor needed to tuck, trim, pin or cut the fabric to ensure the vehicle would remain protected for its 7,000-mile trip from Flint to Dubai.
“GM and our dealers in Dubai and the wider Middle East region are delighted that the covers provide great protection not only during the shipping process but also against the unique environmental conditions we see here; namely sand,” said Maurice Williams, president and managing director, GM Middle East.
“The covers help us to deliver our vehicles to our customers at the high levels of quality they expect and we demand,” Williams said.
Said Giovanni Garzone, who handles marketing and sales for CoverCar’s parent company: “GM is giving the customer value… protecting their car. I would feel great if I knew that my car was protected like this.”
Hunt said export vehicles typically have a plastic film applied to protect them from scratches and dirt. One solution considered was a cover car owners could purchase at an automotive shop, but these covers billowed in the wind and failed to prevent dirt and grime from covering the vehicle, requiring the dealership to spend extra time cleaning the vehicle before delivery to the customer.
“The best solution is to custom-fit the covers for each model to ensure they stay factory fresh during a lengthy journey that spans weeks and includes time at port and on a ship,” Hunt said. The vehicles can still be driven with the custom covers in place.
Garzone equates the process to creating a package – or a suit in tailor terms – to protect each vehicle.
Hunt estimates that approximately 100,000 vehicles will use the custom-fit car covers. In addition to using the covers on Corvettes and ELRs for domestic delivery, the export-bound full-size pickups and utilities, the Chevroletalibu and Volt and Opel Ampera extended-range electric vehicles. The wardrobe of custom-fitted vehicle covers will also be an option for GM facilities to use around the world over time, Hunt said.
General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM, its subsidiaries and joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com