Swapping the steering wheel isn't easy when you're trying to keep costs down.
While we await the latest news of the hotter C8 Corvette Z06 in the States, our friends in Australia are simply anxious to drive any ‘Vette with the steering wheel on the right side of the car. America’s enduring sports car has remained an American staple for its entire life, save for occasional trips to Europe but it was still offered exclusively in left-hand drive. Chevrolet is sending the new mid-engine Corvette all over the world – including Australia for the first time complete with right-hand drive – but according to Australia-based Whichcar.com.au, it’s not without some trepidation from GM executives.
“We’ve never sold the car in Australia; we know we have passionate fans there, but we really don’t have a great sense of what the volume’s going to be,” said Corvette’s Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter, according to Whichcar.com.au. As such, it’s a bit of a dicey proposition to take on the extra expense of swapping the interior around. In the case of the 2020 Corvette, it means manufacturing a plethora of swoopy panels to maintain the driver-centric cockpit. That’s not necessarily a concern with low-volume, high-dollar supercars that buyers are willing to pay big bucks for anyway, but it does make a big difference in keeping the Corvette affordable. That is a C8 point-of-pride that Chevrolet has preached since the 'Vette's launch last July.
Fortunately, moving the engine behind the driver significantly simplifies the conversion process. Repositioning steering gear, for example, no longer requires significant modifications to the engine and engine bay. That alone cuts the cost for a right-hand-drive conversion at the factory, and the report indicates this is a major factor in Chevrolet offering the ‘Vette in such a configuration for the first time in its history.
As for how many Corvettes will sell in Australia, that’s anybody’s guess and apparently, not even GM knows what to expect. That’s why it’s something of a bet, but we have to believe at least some preliminary studies were done ahead of time.
In any case, Australian petrol heads eager for a new Corvette will have to wait a bit longer. It was originally slated to reach Australia by the end of the year, but the lengthy UAW strike against GM last fall has everything a bit behind schedule.