By on March 11, 2011

Remember the Saturn Vue? The Theta-based crossover is known around the world as the Chevrolet Captiva (or Daewoo WinStorm… yes, really), and soon it will be known in the US as GM’s latest fleet queen. With some 86% of GM’s fleet sales last year coming from Chevy (about a 35% mix for the brand), GM is apparently trying to insulate its newer products from the fleet queen image, and as a result it’s decided to import the Captiva Sport from Mexico in order

to help satisfy growing demand for compact crossovers by fleet customers.

Keep in mind, this is not the latest Captiva to come out of GM-DAT, but rather the outgoing model that has been in production since 2006. But, according to GM’s release, this isn’t a weakness. Alan Batey, U.S. vice president, Chevrolet Sales and Service explains

It says a lot about our ability to draw on international programs and proven, quality crossovers that we were able to identify and federalize a strong new entrant such as Captiva Sport for the U.S. market. We turned to our global network for a solution to quickly meet the rising demand from local fleet customers and continue to meet strong retail demand for the Equinox.

And if this attitude seems shocking, it’s time to start getting used to it: GM is rumored to be planning this same strategy when it releases its updated Chevy Malibu next year. According to long-standing whispers, the outgoing model will continue to be produced as a fleet-oriented “Classic” model. Perhaps it’s time for GM to roll out a fleet-only brand?

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40 Comments on “Chevy Captiva-ted By Fleet Sales...”


  • avatar

    I see no issues here at all.

    Hopefully they also do the same thing with the Holden Commodore/Pontiac G8 for Chevrolet.  They can also sell the Holden Caprice to US retail customers instead of just the Police while they’re at it.

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      This is TTAC and GM did something.  Of course it’s a bad idea.
       
      Those of us with common sense will see this as a brilliant idea.  Fleet sales are fact of life.  So rather than ruin your retail marques by fleet dumping (IE: new Taurus/Explorer), let something else take the hit.
       
      And with the money GM saved by doing this (no special tools, all GM dealers know the vehicle, tooling is paid for, the vehicle is already federalized), it really does makes sense.

    • 0 avatar

      Dude, Silvy, I get the comically unaware GM fanboy schtick and everything, but are you really making the argument that you’re a neutral judge of bias? Please. You actually have a good argument here, so stop bashing on the community and let it speak for itself.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Perhaps it’s time for GM to roll out a fleet-only brand?
    The real question is why haven’t they figured this out already?

    • 0 avatar
      KGrGunMan

      It sounds good at first to have a fleet only car or a fleet only brand but there is a problem;

      Fleet buyers started moving away from various cars because of the horrific resale values they had, thats why you’ll notice a lot more toyotas on rental lots. It hurts the rental companys bottom line when you buy a car and 2 years later it’s lost $15k in value.

      Think of what kind of resale value a car would have if you knew 100% of them were bought by fleets? If the resale value is that bad then no fleet would buy them.

  • avatar
    Charles T

    A “Generic Motors” brand, then. They can even use those little GM badges if they have any left over from that experiment.

  • avatar
    geeber

    This isn’t new…if I recall correctly, when the 2004 Malibu debuted, GM kept the earlier version in production for fleet customers as the “Chevrolet Classic.”

    • 0 avatar

      Yup I remember the Malibu Classic too. Not a new idea. Not a particularly great one either.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeffer

      In the Sixties, the Chevrolet Biscayne was the fleet and rental model, Bel Air and Impala were mostly retail. It was a good idea then, and it still is. The alternative might have been to keep Pontiac or another brand as the 21st century Biscayne.

    • 0 avatar
      Hoser

      I had the misfortune to get one of those as a rental. Absolutely the worst vehicle I’ve had to experience, and I used to own a Chevette. Everything screamed cheap, NVH was horrible, and it handled like a hay wagon. The shifter moved easily, yet still seemed like it wanted to snap off at any moment. I hope the Captiva is a better product.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Yeah there’s even a few dealers on eBay who seem to have gotten their hands on many of those “classic” models as they drop out of fleets.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      They sold a carryover 2007 Malibu to fleets in 2008, as well.  To make things even more confusing, I also think they offered fleets the 3.5L OHV V6 in the new-model Malibu, rather than the 3.6L DOHC V6.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I actually liked the Vue more than the Terrain and new Equinox.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    GM already HAS a “generic” brand – GMC: “Generic Model Chevy”! Seriously, I like the styling of the last Saturn VUE and it is perfect in that role. Anything’s better than the generic “Classic” – the old fleet Malibu. While they’re at it, bring back the Astra hatchback as well. We had a “Classic” as a rental car five years ago and it was great – you didn’t know (or care) whether it was a Camry, Corolla, Malibu, Taurus or Stratus. There, there, nice car!

  • avatar

    Classic strikes again.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Hmmmmmmmmmmm I wonder if the school district I work for will end up with any of these as motor pool fodder?  What are the Captivas going to be powered by?  Will they dig up the tooling for the 3400V6 as well?  EcoTec 4clys all the way?
     
    I recently spent enough time in a 3400V6 powered 2007 Equinox to write a “Time Capsule Review” and lord what a cheap POS that thing felt like with only 40,000 miles on it.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      What are the Captivas going to be powered by?

      GM’s press release says the same as the Terrain and Equinox- the 2.4L DI and the 3.0L DI.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      The 3.4 would have been fine in my ’86 Pontiac 6000-STE to replace the somewhat anemic 2.8 but it’s still no thrill to drive. Mom’s Rendezvous has it, and it’s a gutless wonder. Climbing Raton pass in Mom’s car elicits a lot of high rpm thrash, where my Explorer’s pushrod 4.0 sounds downright gutsy and more relaxed even at 4,000rpm.
       
      The GM V6-60 is overmatched in a lot of heavier SUV/Van applications but in a lightweight car, it’s pretty decent.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      I drove a 2004 Impala with a 3400 and it was “OK” nothing great but adequate, I would have wanted the 3800 in that sucker if it was going to be mine, but then again I worship at the altar of torque. 

      In a heavy 2007 Equinox with AWD I swore that a 4cyl was under the hood till I actually popped the hood release to check.  Heck the old Ford Taurus that is one of the motor pool cars with the 3.0 Vulcan feels much more relaxed when your driving 85mph on the highway and gets better fuel economy to boot. 

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Woe be unto any engine that manages to make the Vulcan look good.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      …but then again I worship at the altar of torque.
       
      Then you simply must sample the new 3.0L.  LNJ versus 3.0L SIDI.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Wow, you know I need to start hunting up “torque curves” online when judging an engine.  Born in the 70s and raised in the 80s I’m used to low down torque so I get worried when I see a torque peak of (for example) 5000 rpm, but if it’s fairly flat… then we’ve got something there. 

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Well, the 3.0L SIDI sucks in the torque department. It does come alive at around 4500, but it’s pretty coarse up there too.
       
      Really the 3900 last non-V8 GM engine with a traditional torque delivery.  It looks like better technology and the quest for big EPA numbers is killing off big displacement, naturally aspirated torque in all but niche applications.
       
      I have been warming up to some of these new turbo fours though. I really liked the Chevy 1.4T and the Nissan 1.6T.  I’ll need to weasel my way into a Regal GS drive once it becomes available. I have high expectations for the 2.0L Ecoboost too- I’m hopeful that engine finds its way into the Fusion or Taurus somehow.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      The 3.0 doesn’t suck.  It’s a small motor with a top end that just keeps going and going.

      What sucks is GM’s bonehead product planners mistaking that 7K power peak for a big motor and sticking it in two ton $45,000 Cadillacs where it absolutely doesn’t belong.
       
      Of course it’s no better suited to a two ton Equinox or Terrain.  But CAFE leaves them little choice on the affordable end.
       
      In the cars where this motor belongs – a Malibu, a Regal, a Cruze SS, a Solstice if they hadn’t killed it – it’d be great.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      The 3.0 liter V6 in question makes horsepower and torque figures that aren’t too far off the first Acura NSX.
       
      Too bad the V6 ended up in cruddy GM crossovers instead of some of their better machinery (Regal, anyone?)

  • avatar
    mazder3

    Just make Chevrolet the fleet brand. Have Buick be non-fleet. Problem solved.

  • avatar
    segfault

    Malibu Classic?  This is the same sort of crap that bankrupted GM the first time.

  • avatar

    Establishing a fleet-only brand is positively silly.  Having older models kept in production for fleet use is clever.

  • avatar

    Normally I think relying on fleet sales in any way is a bad thing, but in this case, I think a fleet-only model is a good idea. It seems GM is selling all the Equinoxes and Terrains it can build, and the Captiva is nothing more than a Saturn Vue, which was already crash tested and federalized. Going about things this way just means the company can focus on Equinoxes and Terrains at retail and not erode their resale. It’s certainly a better idea for the platform than the “Buick Vue” that was theorized and killed during bankruptcy.
    Plus, seeing one of these in private hands will be something of a novelty. Unlike the fleet-special Malibu Classic, this vehicle was never available from this brand at retail. I might geek out about owning one.

  • avatar

    Do not think it is a great idea. Many people make judgement about brand from rental cars. E.g. I had Maxima in my shopping list until I rented one, when I discovered its discontented and poorly designed interior and how ugly it looks in my garage. Also after I rented Malibu Classic (and its bro GrandAm) I removed both brands from my further consideration. Providing outdated, discontented cars to rental may damage brand image in the long run.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    I understand not wanting to taint a popular new model with fleet sales, but what’s the point in this?  They make next to nothing on fleet cars and they’re high-volume segment cars are selling in big numbers.  There aren’t any plants that need to be kept running…wasn’t the bankruptcy supposed to fix that?
     
    Besides…if you’re going to sell to fleets, sell them something decent, not old crap like this.  If nothing else, rental fleets are free advertising and this only perpetuate the notion that GM sells outdated junk.
     
    It amazes me how perpetually boneheaded GM still is, post bankruptcy.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The statement that they make next to nothing on fleet sales isn’t true. In the case of the rental companies they buy direct cutting out the dealers profit, they don’t qualify for the low interest financing or rebates, cutting that cost out on the mfg’s end. When it is a vehicle who’s tooling is already payed for it makes that much more profit.
       
      I do agree though that putting outdated models into rental fleets isn’t the best idea to promote your brand.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Also consider this:
     
    This vehicle will be MASSIVELY profitable.  Why?  Because all of the development costs were charged to the old GM.  It’s literally going to cost GM pennies on the dollar to put the machines back in service and the vehicles back on the road.
     
    This is a brilliant move.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      When was the last time you saw a  new Crown Vic in the dealers show room? The last I heard the St Thomas plant is still running them on a fleet only basis.

  • avatar
    turbobrick

    Now this is smart! You can peddle your wares to fleets without causing the resale value of your retail products to tank. Also, you can probably make only one trimline which will further reduce the manufacturing costs.

  • avatar
    JJ

    Remember the Saturn Vue? The Theta-based crossover is known around the world as the Chevrolet Captiva (or Daewoo WinStorm… yes, really)

    Oh you mean the Opel Antara…

    I just checked and it’s still on sale. To make matters even more confusing, they’re also selling a Chevrolet Captiva next to the Antara. It’s basically the same car but with different headlights and a 7-seater option.

    When the Antara was launched I thought it might be a good car for my parents who have driven Opels for eons (used to be a very popular brand in the Netherlands). But when I saw one on the road it struck me as awfully high for its width. The Alfa Romeo MiTo is another example of this on a smaller scale; some nice design cues in the press shots but on the road it doesn’t work because of the messed up proportions. I rarely see either of them on the roads today while some of the competitors from Hyundai and KIA are relatively commonplace.

  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    Down in Vegemite land the Captiva outsold Kluger(!) Plenty of Kluger’s in Hertz fleet, don’t see so many Captiva’s in Budget,Avis or Europcar. As a postscript I agree with Mr President, Vegemite is an aquired taste, and I have yet to aquire it.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Since rental car companies will eventually sell their cars into the secondary used market, there is no such thing as a fleet-only passenger car universe unless they can sell them back to GM for scrap or overseas.
     
    Those used, low content rental cars will remain on the roads for years and regular folks will see, own and experience these autos.
     
    Consumer Reports, et al will still rate them as used car buyers will demand the information.
    They will clearly be GM products.
    Thought leaders like TTAC will discuss these cars.
     
    Steven Lang?


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