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Custom-fit nonwoven covers protect GM vehicles

By Tim Wright, editor | May 1, 2014

Also serve as Corvette collectibles and provide grime avoidance for Middle East exports.

A new generation of stylish cars and trucks like the Corvette Stingray, Cadillac ELR electrified luxury coupe, the new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra HD pickup trucks are leaving General Motors assembly plants in hand-made covers designed to fit like the finest tailored suits.

Like a layer of protective clothing, these covers can protect vehicles from bad weather, rust, rocks and other elements that can blemish the paint of a vehicle. Car companies like GM have started to use these sturdy, reusable wearables when transporting vehicles across the country and around the globe.

In collaboration with CoverCar, a unit of Italy-based Confezioni Andrea S.r.l., GM began creating these custom-fitted fabric covers, replacing the plastic wrap common to vehicle shipping.

The first GM application was for export of the 2013 Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera, followed by the 2014 Corvette Stingray, which ships each copy of the 2014 North American Car of the Year in one of the covers regardless of its final destination. Some Corvette owners keep the single-use covers as souvenirs.

“These covers address an important part of the customer experience, ensuring that vehicles delivered thousands of miles away appear as though they just rolled off the assembly line,” says Noel Hunt, GM manager of international quality.

Last year, CoverCar set up operations in southeast Michigan to work closely with GM, visiting assembly plants to custom-fit covers for the Corvette, the ELR and GM’s redesigned lineup of full-size trucks. The 2015 Chevrolet Silverado are fitted with the cover ensuring the vehicles remain protected for the 7,000-mile trip from Flint to Dubai.

“GM and our dealers in Dubai and the wider Middle East region are delighted that the covers provide great protection not only during the shipping process but also against unique environmental conditions we see here—namely sand,” says Maurice Williams, president and managing director, GM Middle East. “The covers help us to deliver our vehicles to our customers at the high levels of quality they expect and we demand.”

Hunt says export vehicles typically have a plastic film applied to protect them from scratches and dirt. One solution considered was a cover car owners could purchase at an automotive shop, but these covers billowed in the wind and failed to prevent dirt and grime from covering the vehicle, requiring the dealership to spend extra time cleaning the vehicle before delivery to the customer.

“The best solution is to custom-fit the covers for each model to ensure they stay factory fresh during a lengthy journey that spans weeks and includes time at port and on a ship,” Hunt says.

The vehicles can still be driven with the custom covers in place.

Hunt estimates that approximately 100,000 vehicles will use the custom-fit car covers. In addition to using the covers on Corvettes and ELRs for domestic delivery, the export-bound full-size pickups and utilities, the Chevroletalibu and Volt and Opel Ampera extended-range electric vehicles. The wardrobe of custom-fitted vehicle covers will also be an option for GM facilities to use around the world over time.

“GM is giving the customer value—protecting their car,” says Giovanni Garzone, who handles marketing and sales for CoverCar’s parent company and also serves as business development manager for the U.S. market.

Garzone equates the process to creating a package—or a suit in tailor terms—to protect each vehicle. While Garzone says the CoverCar fabric is composed of nonwoven material, he would not divulge any other details about the fabric’s make-up.

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