The first 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 has landed in Australia, according to a post on Holden’s official Instagram page (pictured below).
It is the first sign of the iconic US sports car on Australian soil since Holden confirmed in July 2019 that it was headed Down Under.
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette appears to have been delivered on a flatbed truck as the image shows it being carefully reversed off a tilt tray, using timber under the tyres to make sure it doesn’t scrape its nose.
CarAdvice understands the example in the photo is a left-hand drive engineering vehicle and the first of the right-hand-drive test cars is not due until 2020 – ahead of the Corvette's Holden showroom arrival in 2021.
Pricing and other key details about the exact version of the Corvette that Holden in Australia will adopt are yet to be announced, but it is expected to cost in excess of $100,000. In its most basic guise, the Corvette in the US starts from $USD60,000.
The touchdown of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 for early testing injects new hope for Holden in Australia a fortnight after the company announced it was dropping the Commodore from the local line-up, prompting fans to question the future of the company.
A Holden insider, who insisted General Motors plans to weather Holden’s current record low sales downturn, told CarAdvice: “General Motors wouldn’t be introducing its global flagship car in Australia if it was about to shut up shop”.
However, General Motors has made a slow retreat from right-hand drive markets around the world – it no longer sells cars in the UK, South Africa, India and Japan, and from March 2020 will withdraw from Indonesia.
That leaves Thailand, Australia and New Zealand as the key remaining right-hand-drive markets, putting a question mark over General Motors’ long term plans beyond lucrative left-hand-drive countries such as China and North America, and a possible return to Europe.
General Motors needs production volume to offset the extra cost of developing vehicles for right-hand drive, but dwindling sales make the business case for future models more challenging.
Sales of the Holden Acadia and Holden Equinox SUVs have not met expectations, and the Thailand factory that builds the Holden Colorado ute and Holden Trailblazer SUV has the second-lowest output versus its main rivals.
In the first 11 months of 2019 the Toyota HiLux factory in Thailand has produced approximately 306,000 pick-ups for the Asia-Pacific region, Isuzu has built 175,000, Mitsubishi 145,000, Ford 115,000 and Nissan 65,000.
General Motors’ factory in Thailand has built 35,000 pick-ups, only narrowly ahead of Mazda (28,400), however annual production has ebbed and flowed from 35,000 to just over 50,000 over the past six years, with a peak annual production of 64,000 seven years ago.
The Chevrolet Corvette is intended to have a “halo effect” on the Holden brand and help drive showroom traffic, even if it’s not going to be priced in the mainstream market.
It is the first Corvette in the history of the nameplate to be built on the US production line in right-hand-drive.
The conversion was made possible – and more financially viable – now that the C8 generation Corvette is mid-engined, leaving more space and flexibility under the nose for a right-hand-drive steering system.
The C8 Corvette unveiled so far is powered by a 6.2-litre V8 (364kW/630Nm) matched to an eight-speed twin clutch auto. There is no manual available.
While it appears this is the model that was unloaded off the truck at Holden, it is unclear if Australia will get this version or a more powerful supercharged version that is rumoured to follow. The new generation Corvette is also poised to get some form of hybrid or electric power through its lifecycle.