GM began production of the esteemed Corvette in Bowling Green in 1981, and the facility has remained the exclusive home of the Corvette for over 30 years. Known around the world as America’s sports car, the Corvette exemplifies the definition of innovation. The Corvette is the world’s longest-running, continuously produced passenger car. When the first Corvette rolled off the line over 60 years ago, it was born an icon. GM has continued this reputation for the car with six decades of refinement and innovation, raising the bar for performance cars with each generation. The Corvette Stingray is no exception; man and machine work in harmony to bring to life the perfect balance of technology, design and performance.
Corvette didn’t always call Kentucky home, however. In 1953, the first 300 were built by hand in Flint, Michigan, just after General Motors unveiled the Corvette as a “dream car” in the Motorama show in New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. The following year, production moved to St. Louis. In June of 1981, Corvette production transferred from St. Louis to Bowling Green, Kentucky. Previously a Chrysler air-conditioning unit factory, the building was completely renovated within 14 months into a modern automotive facility twice the size of the previous structure. At the conclusion of the 1996 production year, the entire plant was gutted to make way for a totally redesigned manufacturing facility for the fifth generation Corvette. Production of the XLR began in June 2003 and ceased on April 30, 2009. The plant built the 1 millionth Corvette on July 2, 1992 and the 1.5 millionth on May 28, 2009. The 50th anniversary of the Corvette was celebrated in June 2003, marked with a special 50th anniversary Corvette package, and the 30th anniversary of Bowling Green Assembly was celebrated in June 2011.
On May 4, 2011, GM announced it would invest $131 million in the Bowling Green plant to support production of the Corvette Stingray, adding about 250 jobs. The plant upgrade in 2012 and 2013 included a brand new $52 million Body Shop in order to build the aluminum frame in-house for the first time. The all-new 2014 Corvette Stingray was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show on January 13, 2013; production began 3rd quarter 2013. In addition, on January 30, 2013, GM announced a $3.5 million investment to relocate its Performance Build Center from Michigan to the Bowling Green Plant, adding 30 new jobs. Corvette Z06 engines are currently built in this area. Beginning March, 2015 the exclusive Engine Build Experience became available to Corvette Z06 customers. This program allows aficionados to assemble the 650-hp supercharged LT4 engine for their cars. The $5,000 package includes a full day with a Performance Build Center engine assembly technician who instructs and oversees the build, a personalized engine plaque identifying the owner/builder and the date of the engine build, and professional photography of the experience.
More recently, in May 2015, GM announced it would invest $439 million at the plant for facility upgrades, including a new 450,000 square-foot paint shop - almost half the size of the entire current production facility. Construction of the new paint shop, which includes substantial technology upgrades, began summer 2015 and will take approximately two years to complete. Corvette production schedules will be unaffected by the construction. Then, in December 2015, GM announced a $44 million investment in the plant Performance Build Center for capacity increase, adding 36 new jobs. Construction and tool re-arrangement began in January 2016.
Located just off I-65 at exit 28, General Motors Bowling Green Assembly is proud to be the only “Home of the Corvette”. Eight hundred production workers, represented by the UAW Local 2164, help assemble these vehicles on a one-shift, 8-hour, Monday-Friday production schedule. Approximately 50,000 tourists from around the world visit the plant annually to catch a glimpse of the manufacturing process at Bowling Green Assembly. In addition, the plant has partnered with the National Corvette Museum to enable Corvette enthusiasts the opportunity to watch their own Corvette being built, take a personalized tour of the facility and special delivery of their car, and acquire an exclusive photo book to commemorate the manufacturing process and “birth” of their Corvette. For more information about the Bowling Green plant, please visit its website at corvetteassembly.com.
- $44 million for a capacity increase in the Performance Build Center
- $439 million for facility upgrades, including new Paint Shop (construction to start summer 2015 and take 2 years to complete)
- 2013/2014; $3.5 million for new Performance Build Center
- 2012/13; $131 million for C7 changeover
- 7/07; $4,500,000 for conveyor addition/rearrangement
- 2005; $5,000,000 for Andon/global error proofing
- 2005; $12,000,000 for ELPO paint system
- 4/05; $19,000,000 for C6 model change
- 4/05; $3,000,000 for paint sludge system/air balance