With car companies around the world burning through cash reserves at an incredible rate due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was inevitable that some of the more borderline projects were going to be axed.
That appears to be the case for the right-hand-drive Chevrolet C8 Corvette, which is reported to be in stasis following an edict from General Motors’ executives. With that command, it appears the chances of the Corvette launching in Australia have been slashed.
The wording by GM executives when Holden’s closure was announced was carefully crafted, with a coy wink and nod to the C8 still being on the horizon for Australia – though, when pressed, executives became evasive.
This shouldn’t be entirely surprising. GM has a history of breaking product promises, and its departure from key right-hook markets, including Australia, would push a RHD C8 down the order of priorities.
Wheels did some digging, and after pressing our industry sources, it appears there are now just three scenarios left to play out for the right-hook C8.
A warning: for anyone who was excited for the C8’s Aussie arrival (like us), this won’t make for easy reading.
Scenario 1: The project is canned completely
Unfortunately, this scenario seems to be the most likely.
As reported by Hagerty, GM delivered an edict to its suppliers to hold fire as all future development plans were put on ice.
Now, while it was confirmed during the C8 Corvette’s launch that it would be built in right-hand drive, it seems that wasn’t entirely accurate.
Read next: The Aussie origins of the Corvette C8
Our sources have told us that a RHD Corvette was apparently never a guarantee, rather the C8 was ‘package protected’ during the R&D stage, with more development needed before being put into production.
Meaning, a stasis for all GM vehicle development would include the hypothetical right-hook C8 Corvette.
If the hold goes on for too long, we can wave goodbye to the mid-engined V8 sports car coming Down Under.
Scenario 2: Walkinshaw picks up the slack from GM
Following GM’s decision to axe development of a right-hand-drive Corvette, that torch could be picked up by the ultra-talented team at Walkinshaw.
HSV is in the middle of being transformed into GMSV to represent General Motors in Australia going forward. The Corvette would be a logical and aspirational halo model for the new face of GM locally.
The Clayton business has proven its ability to re-engineer left-hand-drive products into right-hook to a standard that matches or exceeds what rolls out of North American factories.
Read next: Chevrolet Corvette C8 could race at Bathurst
Wheels understands that even before COVID-19 put the RHD C8 on ice, HSV was prepared to convert the Corvette locally if need be.
The issue with this scenario is the same that plagued the Chevrolet Camaros offered by HSV – price.
If the C8 was delivered from the factory in RHD guise, it was expected to cost roughly $140,000. A local remanufacturing process would shove that number north of $200,000.
Not ideal, but at least we would get the Corvette locally for a few die-hard fans.
Scenario 3: Patience will be rewarded
Finally, a factory-delivered right-hand-drive C8 Corvette could still happen in Australia, just much later than first thought.
There are numerous, sizeable roadblocks in the way with this scenario, but it does remain on the table.
If GM simply waits out the pandemic and subsequent financial crunch, starting up the RHD Corvette program when cash flows return to normal, a 2023 launch in Australia could be possible.
The silver lining to this scenario is that the Corvette could arrive with its full model line-up, including high-performance models.
Leaked documents have shown that future Corvette variants expected to be built by 2023 include the 5.5-litre naturally aspirated V8-powered Z06, and 447kW 6.2-litre Grand Sport.
By 2024 a twin-turbo 5.5-litre ZR1 is due, followed by the big-daddy 745kW hybrid Zora in 2025.