For nearly 35 years, the center of the Chevrolet Corvette world is Bowling Green, Kentucky, but the assembly plant has never produced a Corvette Stingray until the introduction of the C7 model last year. GM had to give the Bowling Green Assembly Plant a top-to-bottom renovation to build its cutting edge sports car, and the Velocity Channel’s How it’s Made: Dream Cars series took an inside peek at this Corvette mecca.
It all starts with the Geometry Symmetry Tool on the chassis of the Corvette Stingray, assembling the “tunnel” structure before doing a 180-degree flip to be welded together. The welding is all done via robots, which complete the job in about two and a half minutes. From there, it’s off to get the aluminum chassis all together so that the Corvette starts to resemble, well, a Corvette. Then it’s time for more welding, more assembly, and when all is said and done, about 350 resistance spot welds, and about 70 laser welds consisting of more than 36 feet of welding.
Then robots do the priming and painting, again completed in about two and a half minutes, after which they are baked for 30 minutes at 260 degrees Fahrenheit. Then it’s off to human hands, where people armed with sanders and quality control fix any mistakes of their robotic co workers. Engine assembly is a mix of human and robotic efforts, as is the rest of production of the Corvette Stingray. The final two components installed are the steering system and headlights, working within a very narrow set of parameters.
It’s an absolutely fascinating process to watch,and it demonstrates just how much the auto industry has come to rely on robots and machines to make cutting-edge cars like the Corvette.