By on March 5, 2008

x08ch_im02122.jpgThe Toronto Star reports that GM Canada is boosting Impala production by some 46 units per day, to about 1100. The General says it made the decision to put the pedal to the medal (i.e. adding overtime shifts) at the award-winning Oshawa plant to meet growing demand for the wrong-wheel-drive beast south of the 49th. Despite the decision to kibosh a rear wheel-drive version of the car, or maybe because of it, the Impala's American sales are up 7.3 percent from last year. Some Chevy dealers report that the "old," bigger Impala is stealing sales from the new, narrower Malibu. Either that or fleet clients have boosted their orders knowing that the Impala is slated for execution. (Automotive News [sub]: "General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC accounted for fewer than three out of four new vehicles sold to the U.S. rental industry last year — down from more than four-fifths in 2006.) Or maybe it's got something to do with the possibility of a Canadian Auto Workers strike. Your thoughts?

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18 Comments on “GM Boosts Impala Production, Cuts Fleet Sales. Go figure....”


  • avatar

    The Chevy Guppy…er…Impala has always been popular in the hinterlands, especially in its FWD incarnations. It’s roomy, affordable, and…uh….

    We had one as a rental for a week, and hated it. Couldn’t wait to get back into our Olds Intrigue, if that tells you anything.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    There are very few bargain priced large sedans with traditional American style “handling”. Impala has demonstrated good reliability results and is a strong seller. If they were stupid enough to redo it as a rear wheel drive vehicle the gear heads would be happy and sales would drop. FWD is now familiar to most American drivers and is easier to drive in snow than RWD. Most of the US population lives in places where dealing with snow is an annual affair, so ease of snow driving matters.

    I bet that GM’s decision to kill off traditional nameplates in the Buick and Pontiac lineups is feeding some Impala sales. Buyers aged 45 and up are not easily sold on New Cool Names. Probably some worn out Crown Victorias and Grand Marquis are being retired for new Impalas as well.

  • avatar
    FunkyD

    Everyone knows the last *real* Impala was built in 1996. What we have here is a Grand Lumina.

  • avatar
    meocuchad

    When I had heard the news that they will most likely not switch the Impala to RWD, I can’t say I was surprised in the slightest. So, this probably means another 300hp FWD car in our future. What a complete waste…

    However, my fiance and I rented a current gen Impala for a drive to St. Louis a few years ago. It was actually a very comfortable car, and the interior didn’t offend me too much. However, that thing handled like a damn boat. Seriously. Tons of body lean.

    Anyway, they must be ramping up current production because they know they are in some trouble otherwise. Might as well cast the line out to where you currently notice the most fish.

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    I have an 01 Impala, and it’s the best car anyone in my family has ever owned. It’s quiet, comfortable, has reasonable enough power, good on gas (I average over 30mpg,) decent in the snow, plenty of room, lots of luxuries, and was fairly cheap to buy and insure. I think it’s hard to find as much car for the money as you get in an Impala.

    And FWIW, a couple coworkers have rented Impalas, and loved the car as well.

  • avatar
    Orian

    Call it what it is – a Lumina. I think it was on this site it was pointed out that it looks almost the same, but modernized, as the original Lumina ages ago.

    My best guess is they are doing it in anticipation of a strike. The only place I see these things is on rental car lots in Central Ohio right now. I still have yet to see a new Malibu on the road, rental or otherwise.

  • avatar
    bleach

    lproctor1982,

    “lots of luxuries” is where you lost me.

  • avatar
    old_curmudgeon

    I drove an Impala recently. I rented it from Hertz. It was OK. Just OK. The good: Quiet. Adequate power.
    The bad: Cruise control does not work in hilly terrain (found out by accident, confirmed by reading the manual). Deadest steering and ride ever. Road feel, what’s that? D.I.C. controls hidden behind steering wheel. Lots of hard plastic surfaces.

    GM will not make conquest sales with cars like this.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Reading the recent news on this site concerning GM tells me that the increase in production is likely due to a DECREASE retail sales.

    Furthermore, a claim of reduced fleet sales means fleet sales are increasing.

    From these two things, I conclude that hardly anyone other than fleet buyers are currently biting and GM, in an unusually wise decision, has decided to sell as many of these as they can to fleet customers.

    Buy’em if you want’em boys.

  • avatar
    NickR

    With the impending death of the Panther platform, perhaps the police are transitioning to the heir apparent, the Chev Impala? (I don’t think the Charger has made too big an impact in that market.)

  • avatar
    Raskolnikov

    “FunkyD :
    March 5th, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Everyone knows the last *real* Impala was built in 1996. What we have here is a Grand Lumina.”

    Tru dat!!!

  • avatar
    raast

    The previous incarnation of the fwd Impala has far more utility, and if I recall, does slightly better in the crash tests than the current one. Unfortunatly, I have all manner of repair workorders (LOTS under warranty, or it would be gone by now) to attest to the “nickel and diming” mentality that prevails at GM. It’s also the last GM I will own, having been a loyal GM buyer for 25 years. I’m not sure what the attraction would be for the current Impala, if you are a sufficently tall individual, the lack of room is readily apparent by comparison to it’s predecessor.

  • avatar
    TriShield

    The current Impala epitomizes everything currently wrong with GM.

    It’s bland. It’s cheap inside and out. It’s terrible to drive. It’s sold en masse to fleets and to consumers as steeply discounted prices. It completely shames the name it carries and as well as the brand that sells it.

    The fact is GM got pretty far on their work for a stylish, modern and RWD Impala that would bring sparkle back to the brand and give Chevrolet buyers a real Imapal and a real American car to buy again. One that they could covet and be proud to own. I find it hard to believe with development as far along as it is and Oshawa being retooled to produce an immense number of RWD cars that they would simply kill it now.

    If GM does it will prove once and for all how woefully managed the company is and how they truly have no clue how to manage their brands and nameplates.

  • avatar

    This whole RWD infatuation along with FWD equates to wrong wheel drive puzzles me. I can understand personal preference but to drop a relatively good selling mass market FWD car in order to go after a niche market with a RWD replacement is a luxury that GM cannot afford. The vast majority of the car buying public want FWD.

  • avatar

    Sherman Lin:

    The vast majority of the car buying public want FWD.

    The vast majority of the public have no idea whether their car is front or rear wheel-drive.

  • avatar
    meocuchad

    Robert Farago:

    The vast majority of the public have no idea whether their car is front or rear wheel-drive.

    This is very true… and very sad.

  • avatar

    The public will understand the space utilization, packaging and weight saving advantages of FWD versus RWD. “Wow it looks so much bigger on the outside than the inside, the smaller Camry is more roomy”, “ It doesn’t get as good gas mileage as the Avalon”

    I also have my pet theory that people like what they are use to. I recently rented a Chrysler PT cruiser. Its not that it was a bad car but I was constantly confused by the controls. I was use to the placement of the controls of my Honda and my Toyota. Switches for lights, wipers, were in different places and worked differently. I hated it for that reason.

    Many people have commented negatively on the seemingly odd center placement of the speedometer gauge of the original Scion Xb. I too was put off by it originally because I was not use to it being in the center of the dash instead of directly in front of the drivers position. Now that I am use to it, I wouldn’t want it any other way. The general public is use to FWD now and they will probably react negatively to a car that drives and handles differently than what they are now use to, even if it actually handles better

  • avatar
    armadamaster

    Ahh…the WImpala, the car that now has come to epitomize the term “automotive appliance. The whole reason GM is yet again not taking the Impala nameplate is that pesky 300K units per year, not CAFE, or anything else. I’m suprised we haven’t seen an extension of the current Wimpala while GM imports the AU RWD Impala for enthusiasts and some real “street cred” in the meantime. This Lumina reincarnate will continue to outsell GM’s new poster child because the WImpala is cheaper & bigger. I’ll keep puttering around in Chevrolet’s last real flagship car, my B-body Caprice.

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