Chevrolet’s Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, will be seeing a week of downtime following the vicious tornadoes that swept through the United States over the weekend. With twisters populating Southern and Midwestern states, Kentucky became ground zero from some of the most devastating weather seen all year.
Governor Andy Beshear called for a state of emergency Saturday due to the extensive damage across the state, with Bowling Green yielding some of the most harrowing examples. While the Corvette factory was spared the total destruction endured by other buildings, General Motors has said the site will still need to remain closed so the necessary cleanup can be done.
“[A fire] has caused damage to the facility, including the roof and an employee entrance. The small number of employees that were on-site are all safe,” GM explained to Automotive News on Sunday. “Maintaining a safe work environment for plant employees is our top priority.”
GM said first and second shifts at the factory would be canceled the week of Dec. 13 “as our trained teams work to get tooling, equipment and the facility space up to standard.”
The plant employs about 1,200 hourly workers, represented by UAW Local 2164, along with about 180 salaried workers.
U.S. sales of the Corvette sports car nearly doubled in the first nine months of the year compared with the same period in 2020. GM sold 24,748 Corvettes through September, compared with 12,634 a year earlier, when production was paused for eight weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Though this year’s output wasn’t seamless. GM stalled operations at the plant last March and a few times in the fall. These production hang-ups were all attributed to supply chain issues and parts shortages (specifically semiconductors), rather than acts of nature. However, following the 2014 incident where Mother Earth opened a sinkhole that tried to swallow the National Corvette Museum, one could be excused for thinking the planet might have something against Chevrolet’s halo car.
Toyota’s Kentucky operations may have shared a few of those component-related hiccups this year, but it doesn’t look as though its massive Georgetown production hub will be seeing downtime due to tornadoes. Despite the neighboring area similarly being subject to severe weather, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky (TMMK), was said to be fully operational. Damage incurred by the plants was reportedly minimal, with only a few nearby suppliers seeing power outages.
[Image: General Motors]