By Melissa Burden – The Detroit News
The Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Ky., typically draws between 40,000 and 50,000 visitors a year through public tours.
No definite date has been set for reopening for tours, said GM spokesman Monte Doran. Production will not be stopped, said plant spokeswoman Andrea Hales.
GM is stopping public tours as it begins retooling and tearing up pieces of the production line and prepares for the next-generation Corvette, Doran said. GM has not released any information on the timing of the new Corvette or when it will be revealed. But it’s expected the all-new Corvette will debut as a 2014 model and could be out sometime next year.
The National Corvette Museum, located across from the plant, works with the plant to offer Corvette buyers and fans unique experiences. Also suspended as of July 30 are the popular Corvette buyers tour, which for $400 allows Corvette owners to see their Corvettes being built; for an additional $500 owners can buy a leather-bound photo book chronicling the build of their vehicle.
GM is investing $131 million into the Bowling Green plant and said in a May 2011 announcement that the investment will create 250 jobs as it installs new equipment to make the next-generation Corvette. Hales said about 100 jobs so far have been added as part of the investment.
The plant, which opened in 1981, currently operates on one eight-hour production shift Monday through Friday. Some maintenance is performed on second shift, Hales said. Doran said the plant is currently running overtime to keep up with demand.
Bowling Green Assembly Plant employs about 585 hourly and salaried workers.