While the all new 2014 Impala is impressing reviewers, like Consumer Reports calling it this year’s highest scoring sedan, General Motors has decided to keep the outgoing Impala as a low cost option for fleet customers until 2016. The automaker had originally planned to keep the old Impala, branded the Impala Limited, in production for rental operators as well as government and corporate fleet customers, into next year. ”The Impala Limited has done extremely well. Our fleet customers know the car and like it,” a GM spokesman said last week. “It’s a business opportunity that we want to continue to fulfill.”
The continued production of the Impala Limited means that the Oshawa Car Assembly plant in Ontario will remain open until at least 2016.
GM has used the strategy of offering fleet only models, like the Impala Limited and the Chevy Captiva, as a means of both making money from the fleet sales and reducing the chances that those fleet sales will negatively affect resale values and with them consumer loyalty. The car company has also kept outgoing Malibu fleet special models in production side by side with new models. Before the redesign, about two thirds of Impala sales in recent years have been to fleets and the car developed a reputation as a rental special. Chevy is hoping to flip those numbers and more, with a target of 70% retail sales for the Impala brand, improving the model name’s cachet with customers.
Higher transaction prices are what car companies are chasing these days, and the new Impala can cost between $1,000 and $5,000 more than a comparably equipped 2013.
The previous Impala has been in production since 2006. Analysts say that the tooling for that car has been paid for a long time ago so GM can offer it as an inexpensive, high volume fleet model and still make money on it, while not hurting the new model’s residual value.