Corvette for Australia gone in 24 hours

15 January 2013
, CarsGuide

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