By on February 7, 2008

2008chevroletimpala.jpgReuters reports that Chevrolet brand manager Ed Peper waxed downright Lutzian at the Chicago Auto Show. Peper said retail sales for Chevy's new Malibu rose 200 percent in January compared to the old model. WTF? Automotive News' data center [AN, sub] says Chevy sold 14,541 Malibus last month vs. 9,209 of the old model in January of last year. That's a 57.9 percent increase, not 200 percent. But it gets even more interesting. Peper denied that the new 'Bu had any effect on Impala sales. He attributed lower Impala sales in January to fleet sale reductions. In fact, he said Impala retail sales were up 44 percent. Uh, AN shows Impala sales were down 30.6 percent in January. If retail sales were up as much as Peper claims, and overall sales were nowhere near those levels, they must have been dumping one helluva lot of cars into fleets, as we suspected all along. If so, the trend could explain last month's huge surge in LaCrosse and Cobalt sales. [Thanks to starlightmica for the link]

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21 Comments on “Chevy’s Brand Manager Stops Making Sense...”

  • avatar

    I expected GM to attribute all losses to “lower fleet sales” and claim all increases to retail sales where fleets had a large effect.

    If you can’t trust those that build the cars to tell you even the most simple truth…why buy the cars from them in the first place? I’ll wax rhetoric elsewhere.

  • avatar


    No kidding. If you are at all concerned about safety and reliability, how do you ever buy a car built by dishonest people?

  • avatar

    Don’t know what exactly he said, as Reuters didn’t give a literal quote, but he may not have meant sales were up 200% versus January last year. He may have meant they’re selling 200% more new Malibus than they are currently selling units of the leftover old Malibus that are still sitting on lots.

    Although to be precise, the Reuters sentence does not actually make any sense. I guess they don’t have editors:
    “…said on Wednesday that U.S. retail sales of the new Malibu model were up 200 percent in January compared to the old model.”

    How do you compare sales and a car model? No doubt the reporter would never in a million years understand what’s wrong with his sentence.

  • avatar

    1/08 Malibu sales: 14,541 (1/07: 9,209)
    1/08 Impala sales: 17,554 (1/07: 25,275)

    From the silly wild-ass guess department:
    1) assuming Impala is 50% fleet, half of that = 8,777. Taking that number and multiplying by 144% = 12,638 retail deliveries.

    2) Malibu was 58% fleet for the first half of 2007, so 42% of 9209 = 3868; when up by 200% = 11,603 retail deliveries.

    For comparison, the Honda Accord sold 23,957 which is just about all retail.

  • avatar

    Unfortunately, much (or all) of the sniping here is based on silly wild ass guesses and assumptions.

  • avatar

    I’m having trouble understanding why any retail consumer would buy an Impala with the Malibu sitting right next to it in the showroom.

    Then again, I’m hard pressed to understand why anyone looking for a sedan is at a Chevy dealer to begin with. The Malibu is decent, at least, but the rest?

  • avatar

    Unfortunately, much (or all) of the sniping here is based on silly wild ass guesses and assumptions.

    Maybe things are different in Michigan, but in my hometown, 14,541 is not 200% higher than 9,209.

    If that’s just a wild ass guess on my part, please check my math and prove me wrong.

  • avatar

    RF, see? Numbers rule! Ed Peper goes down because he’s a number fumbler. Your Mr. Williams nailed him good, with good numbers! Keep it up!

  • avatar

    The truth appears to be in his actual quote:
    “…said on Wednesday that U.S. retail sales of the new Malibu model were up 200 percent in January compared to the old model.”

    Kevin, I agree it’s a poor sentence, but it does make the distinction of retail sales. We all know the old ‘Bu was a fleet queen. If half of January ’07 sales were fleet, that’s about 4,500 retail. Then “up 200%” would suggest 13,500 retail in ’08, leaving about 1,000 for fleets. Plausible.

    I don’t think I’d choose an Impala over a Malibu, but my parents thought the Epsilons were too narrow. They got a LaCrosse.

  • avatar

    Since Chevrolet doesn’t release retail/fleet numeric breakdowns by model we don’t know exactly what happened. We do know that total Impala+Malibu sales were 34484 last year vs. 32095 this year. We also don’t know what effect Malibu is having on Aura and other competing GM mid range cars.

    All of this lets GM’s PR people play endless shell games. Over at Toyota, Honda et. al. there is not much room to obfuscate. Accord is down compared to last year and everyone knows that is a bad thing for a redesign. Simple, eh?

    GM’s fleet business moves all over the place between the Chevy, Buick, Pontiac and Cadillac brands … so who knows what is really going on?

  • avatar

    Ah, yes, the LaCrosse. The vehicle that singlehandedly justifies every bad thing ever said about GM interiors. I swear, it is made from recycled Ruff Totes. When I think of communist Russia, that’s the colour I think of. My tackle box is more pleasant to the eye and the touch than the LaCrosse’s dash. Ugh.

  • avatar

    as we can no longer make sense of any babblings from those atop the tubes, maybe the air at the top is thin as well as hot. we already know their feet are nowhere near the ground.

  • avatar

    SherbornSean:I’m having trouble understanding why any retail consumer would buy an Impala with the Malibu sitting right next to it in the showroom.

    Because GM had enough incentives on the thing that you could by an Impala LTZ for less than an 4 cylinder Malibu LT according to some at GMI.

    starlightmica’s math on Page 1 shows the shell game GM is playing with its sales numbers. That and blaming the lower than Camry/Accord sales of the new Malibu on supply chain issues.

    What exactly are these supply chain issues given that its a car with an existing platform/engine combo, which if it is so d*** important to the future of GM they didn’t have in place ready to go from Job 1. I notice Honda didn’t seem to have supply chain issues launching the new Accord, which is significantly more all-new.

  • avatar

    Some folks would go the Impala for two reasons over the Malibue. First, with rebates, you can buy a Malibu cheaper. Second, Imapals are larger and have a V6.

  • avatar

    Good old GM building trust.

  • avatar
    red dawg

    “I notice Honda didn’t seem to have supply chain issues launching the new Accord, which is significantly more all new.”

    Could it just be the simple fact Honda is a MUCH better run company that has far better relationships with it’s suppliers than GM currently has and that GM is being mismanaged and may never be the powerhouse juggernaut and automotive leader it once was???

    Goofs like this should not be tolerated in a new model that is being advertised to death and being pushed as the Camry and Accord fighter. Low production numbers will just drive the customers to Toyota and Honda, just the opposite of the desired effect !!!!!!!! This car is TOO critical for GM to have made this type of Goof.

  • avatar

    Honda is a much better managed company than GM and they don’t have four different flavors of Accord. They will, however, continue to do a masterful job of platform sharing by using many common components to attack DIFFERENT market segments.

    Malibu, Aura and G6 are all going after the exact same customers. The TSX, TL and Accord, on the other hand, are going after very different customers.

  • avatar

    I agree with both of you.

  • avatar

    I agree with skooter 100%.I also agree with reality 1500+ LaCrosse/Alure and Impala rolling down the line every day.No down time scheduled and Sat O.T.
    Those numbers suggest to me its a great product made by great {and honest landcrusher} people.

  • avatar

    I think the math makes sense when computing retail sales. There weren’t many retail sales of the old one.

    I’m also baffled by how long it’s taking GM to meet demand for the car. Keeping supplies a little short can have big benefits. But supplies seem very short.

    The Accord might be down for two reasons:
    –changeover crimped production
    –the old Accord had a lot of dealer bonus cash on it

  • avatar

    Accords are plentiful on dealer lots, so I don’t think supply problems are an issue. Accord pricing might be a little firmer this year than last, but I suspect that Accords problems are:

    1) Industry sales are down.
    2) The new Accord is LESS fuel efficient than the old one.
    3) The new Accord is big and rather ugly, sort of like an imitation BMW.

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