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Corvette for Australia gone in 24 hours

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  • * Second-in-charge of General Motors over-rules the boss
  • * Private importers laughing all the way to the bank, selling them for $250,000

General Motors does a U-turn on right-hand-drive Corvette.

The boss of General Motors must be a really busy guy. So must the chief engineer of the new Corvette. Because less than 24 hours after both said the car would be made in right-hand-drive and come to Australia “soon”, the company has made a dramatic U-turn.

The second in charge of General Motors, Tim Lee, who is the head of the company’s international operations, hit out at reports of a right-hand-drive Corvette for Australia, exclusively revealed by News Limited yesterday.

He told reporters at the Detroit motor show overnight: “I have no idea what [General Motors CEO Dan Akerson] said but we have no plan to put a right-hand-drive under that bonnet. The Corvette is a Chevrolet, it’s not a Holden, it never will be, next question.”

When Lee was asked how two senior executives with intimate knowledge of the company could make such a faux-pas, Lee said: “I recognise what my boss said, I recognise what [the chief engineer] said, I am telling you as the operating guy in charge there is no plan. I respect my boss, I love my boss. But I think he was giving you an exhortation.”

When pressed again on how two of his senior colleagues could get such key facts wrong during a media presentation, he said during the roundtable interview: “We can spend the entire 20 minutes talking about this. This is a non-story from my point of view. You can write what you want to write, I really don’t give a shit. But it is not in the mainstream plan.”

Lee repeated his earlier comments: “Currently there is no engineering execution, there is no plan. If the CEO said tomorrow that he wants us to do that [a right-hand-drive Corvette] it would take us years. Don’t go back and sell that story.”

He said the new Corvette would be sold in the UK and Japan – both right-hand-drive markets – but be shipped as left-hand-drive models because it is legal to drive them in those countries.

The day before, at the Corvette unveiling, when asked if the new model model would be made in right-hand drive, the boss of General Motors Dan Akerson told News Limited “yes”. When asked when, he replied “soon”.

The chief engineer of the new Corvette, Tadje Juechter, then told News Limited: “We want the Corvette to come to Australia. I get letters from Australia all the time. “Our primary competition sells left- and right-hand-drive, so that’s what we want to do. Our plan is to make this a truly global car.

“But I would say [Mr Akerson’s] timetable is a little faster than what you’re probably thinking. It’ll be years away [rather than soon].”

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 5 comments

  • prob be cheaper to buy in america, take the car to pieces throw in a shipping container, ship to aus, reassemble, and not pay the luxury tax or get.

    vette of highest taxed country Posted on 22 June 2013 4:28am
  • Why would a country and a car industry in recession want to send cars to a market ( country) that would love these cars and buy more corvettes then they would ship. Of Course not - GM doesn't like to make money - they like focussing on markets they lose money on and then get handouts by their government

    chris of melbourne Posted on 21 January 2013 11:36am
  • For GM to play in the world of supercars the Corvette has to be a left and right hand drive car. Australian GM enthusiasts have been disadvantaged in having to convert GM cars to righthand drive at considerable cost. I do not have to list all the competitors in this field that do already engineer their vehicles to be left and right hand drive. Right hand drive is bigger than just Australia, come on GM get your heads out of the sand.

    Graeme of Melbourne Posted on 20 January 2013 10:29am
  • They are not selling them for $250K. That is current model ZR1 pricing. It is not just the conversion costs, when privately importing one, you need to consider 10% GST, 5% duty, shipping and insurance costs and 33% Luxury car tax!! The market for the car in AUS is far too small for GM to play in direct, so I think the car will stay a unique car with CHEV badges! I know the Corvette Clinic in Bundoora has already taken several orders for the new C7 - including mine! Awesome car..

    Dave of Melbourne Posted on 16 January 2013 5:12pm
  • The people selling them for $250,000 are also spending a LOT of money doing the conversion process and engineering. I'm sure there's still a fat profit margin in it for them though.

    David of Australia Posted on 15 January 2013 11:48pm
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