DETROIT -- The UAW's strike of General Motors will push back the launch of the automaker's long-anticipated midengine Chevrolet Corvette and will delay a number of high-margin SUVs, according to LMC Automotive.
The forecasting firm said Wednesday that the next-generation Corvette, originally expected to begin production at GM's Bowling Green assembly plant in Kentucky in early December, will be delayed at least two or three weeks, with the potential to be pushed back into 2020 the longer the work stoppage persists.
Production of both short- and long-wheelbase versions of the next-generation GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Tahoe and Chevrolet Suburban will be pushed back at least a month. All of those vehicles were set to be redesigned as early as next April.
Assembly lines have been idled since 11:59 p.m. Sept. 15, when roughly 46,000 hourly workers walked off the job in the union's first national strike against a Detroit 3 automaker since 2007. Both sides continued to negotiate Wednesday, the 24th day of the strike, as issues remained around wages and job security, among other topics.
"It just affects the ability of a plant to get to launch," Jeff Schuster, president, Americas operation & global vehicle forecasting at LMC, told Automotive News. "These are not going to do massive damage to margin or affect consumer loyalty, but any further delays because of an extended strike do start to get costly."
While enthusiasts have been waiting for the next-generation Corvette for years, a short delay in production likely won't hurt the automaker, considering the vehicle's expected low volume, Schuster said.
The Detroit Free Press, citing sources, first reported the Corvette's delay this week.
GM, in a statement, said it was still too early to tell the strike's impact on production.
"As we recently said during the convertible reveal, the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe goes into production at GM's Bowling Green Assembly in late 2019, with the convertible following in late first-quarter 2020. It's too early to speculate on potential impacts to launch timing for any of our products."
A delay in production of its large SUVs could be costly.
"These are the profits machines," Schuster said. "Any delay in being competitive in that segment and getting a vehicle out is risky."
GM is attempting to counter the success Ford Motor Co. has had redesigning its full-size Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs. The Cadillac Escalade is expected to be redesigned next year but is so far not impacted by the strike, as production is not expected to begin until July, Schuster said.
Anderson Economic Group, a research and consulting firm, estimated Tuesday that the walkout has resulted in a $660 million profit hit for GM and more than $412 million in direct wage losses for all employees through the third week of the strike. Cox Automotive on Tuesday noted GM still had higher-than-average vehicle inventory, with an 81 days' supply of total cars, trucks and SUVs at the beginning of October, well above the industry average of 66 days.