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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Chevy Impala, a popular fleet car, winning everyday buyers

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Chevy Impala, a popular fleet car, winning everyday buyers

June 24, 2007

BY KATIE MERX

FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

EDITOR'S NOTE: This report has been corrected since its initial publication. The inventives on the Impala are lower than those on the Ford 500, not the Ford Taurus.

Beverly Brown didn't expect to be driving a Chevrolet Impala after her last lease ran out early this year.

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But it turned out GM's best-selling car gave her more for her money than other deals she could find, she said.

"I've been driving a Ford for the last eight to 10 years," said Brown, 49, of Allen Park. "But when my lease was up in April, Ford didn't offer me any good deals. ... Then I saw an ad for an Impala lease for less than $300 a month."

Brown thought the car looked nice, and it fit her budget. It was so affordable, she said, she upgraded from the car offered in the ad.

"I added a moonroof and all the top-of-the-line amenities -- I still haven't figured them all out -- all for under $300 a month," Brown said.

General Motors Corp.'s sales numbers so far this year indicate Brown is part of a growing group of retail and commercial fleet customers the automaker is winning over with its now 2-year-old version of the Impala.

Sales of the midsize sedan were up 27% to 144,541 in the first five months of the year, compared with 114,014 a year ago. And while the roomy sedan long has been a staple of commercial, government and rental fleets -- analysts say fleet sales generate about half its sales -- GM said retail sales have provided the largest bump this year, with a 41% increase in year-over-year sales.

Analysts, dealers and customers say the Impala's big selling points are its low price and high fuel economy for its competitive segment.

But GM says the Impala also is enjoying increased sales because it's advertising the vehicle's style, ability to use gasoline or E85 for fuel and such standard benefits as a free year of OnStar service. OnStar is an in-car service that provides everything from turn-by-turn directions and hands-free phone service to automatic emergency notifications in the event of a crash.

"We decided we really wanted to see what this car could do," said Cheryl Catton, Chevrolet general director of car marketing, so the company has increased its national and regional advertising and asked dealers to take more of the Oshawa, Ontario-made sedans into their showrooms. So far this year, she said, dealers have ordered as many as the company hoped they would.

Edmunds.com reports that GM also boosted incentives 74% to an average of $2,996 through May from an average incentive of $1,718 last year. But while that number is up from last year, it's still lower than the incentives on the new Ford 500 and Dodge Charger, Edmunds.com reports.

And J.D. Power & Associates reports that the average transaction price for an Impala in May was about $20,400, more than $4,300 less than the average price of vehicles sold in the segment that J.D. Power calls large conventional.

"It's the same price as the Accord and Camry, but it's bigger," said Edmunds.com industry analyst Alex Rosten. "You get a lot more bang for your buck."

Additionally, he said, "it gets good fuel economy," at 31 miles per gallon on the highway. "And fuel economy is one of the primary considerations of car buyers."

Mark LaNeve, GM North America vice president of sales, said that is a major selling point.

"The Impala, for the size of the vehicle -- it's bigger than the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord -- gets better fuel economy," LaNeve said.

The Camry is rated at 31 m.p.g. highway and the Accord is rated at 29 m.p.g. highway.

But GM spokesman Rob Minton said the Impala sells because it offers a good total package.

"It's not one single thing," Minton said. "I think it's a combination of it's a great value and it's a proven performer."

Source:

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article.../706240593/1014

Edited by NINETY EIGHT REGENCY
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Intresting and good news. Just like the last Impala keeps on getting more popular. I see more young people in new Impalas and more old farts in old Camry's.

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General Motors Corp.'s sales numbers so far this year indicate Brown is part of a growing group of retail and commercial fleet customers the automaker is winning over with its now 2-year-old version of the Impala.

The Impala beats all I've ever seen... Both this generation and last generation ranked at about middle of the pack in competitiveness, yet the buyers seem to grow as the car ages.

It's almost as if either buyers don't know about the car at first (we ALL know GM does a HORRIBLE job of marketing/informing the consumer) or the car has a very loyal following (obviously a lot of that comes from the equity in the Impala name) but the buyers are a bit distracted by the more competitive models and use it as a 'good fall back'

But GM says the Impala also is enjoying increased sales because it's advertising the vehicle's style, ability to use gasoline or E85 for fuel and such standard benefits as a free year of OnStar service.

NOTE TO GM: WOW! And just imagine what the REST of your offerings could do if you actually advertised them competitively!!! Especially the segment leaders!!!! (Served with a hint of sarcasm for your reading pleasure)

"It's the same price as the Accord and Camry, but it's bigger," said Edmunds.com industry analyst Alex Rosten. "You get a lot more bang for your buck."

Why is this not being exploited?

"The Impala, for the size of the vehicle -- it's bigger than the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord -- gets better fuel economy," LaNeve said.

And all of this with the supposedly less efficinet and less technological GM OHV engines... (SIDE NOTE: My GF's '97 Cavi runs the OHV powertrain and my '01 Focus runs the DOHC powertrain... despite my car being newer, better maintained and "more high tech" the Cavi consistently whips the Focus' ass on fuel economy. I'm not so sure the media hasn't told yet another lie on the OHC vs. OHV debate at the expense of trying to dethrone Detroit)

A couple of comments

1) Are we sure we want to call that new RWD car Impala?!?!

2) Speaking of fleeting; has anyone else noticed how bad Toyota is whoring the Prius out lately? I mean, I know they released the beautiful little press release about how the Prius would be "a valuable asset to the rental car companies" which made my local news BTW but hell, it's not only Enterprise, Hertz & Co. but also a lot of our government vehicles around here (bastards don't even support american industry anymore) as well as companies like Coke and Pepsi. (For their supervisor, salespeople and cooler puller cars)

Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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Given how well the Impala is doing, I wonder if it should stay FWD and evolve, and call the Zeta car the Caprice....

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The problem with keeping the Impala FWD is not having a platform to put it on. I'm thinking the EPII Malibu will appeal to current Impala buyers as it should be bigger than the current Malibu and '08. I am a bit worried they could lose sales, but hopefully they'll offer some cheaper versions of the Zeta Impala.

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The problem with keeping the Impala FWD is not having a platform to put it on. I'm thinking the EPII Malibu will appeal to current Impala buyers as it should be bigger than the current Malibu and '08. I am a bit worried they could lose sales, but hopefully they'll offer some cheaper versions of the Zeta Impala.

Maybe they could stretch the EPII platform for an FWD Impala...(wasn't their a rumor about the next Malibu getting an LWB version?)..

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EPII should definitely offer the same interior and cargo volume of the current W-bodies if not more. The current Epsilon's problem is lateral width and trunk space - acceptable for the lower-end of the midsize segment, but not for the upper end that cars like the Camry are finally moving into.

I would never buy an Impala simply because, well, its a Chevy and there are so many better things than driving a Chevy, but its a respectable car for the price and the market. I hope GM really realizes the good aspects of the current Impala.

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It's a good thing that Oshawa is comprised of two plants. We'll be seeing the current Impala being built alongside the Zetas for a while yet.

As long as it sells the way it has been, the car will be built. My only problem with that is the potential delays in getting the zetas I want.

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I think the new Malibu will do just fine taking the Impala's place seriuosly. I asked Chevy along time ago are you sure you want to do that? Well anyways you could move the Impala on the G-Platform or the next generation G-platform (that were not getting).

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Maybe they could stretch the EPII platform for an FWD Impala...(wasn't their a rumor about the next Malibu getting an LWB version?)..

Isn't the new 9-5 going to a strecthed Ep II version? Why not put the Impala on it.

I wouldn't call the Zeta Caprice though. just doesn't seem like it would go over well IMO.

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Then what would you call a RWD Chevy? Could the DTS/Lucerne go on the 9-5 stretched platform along with the Impala? Or wouldn't it be big enough? Also could a small V8 and a 6spd. auto fit in there? I thought most people would want a RWD Impala especially around here. I warned Chevy along time ago. Now that I have seen the Malibu I fully support a RWD Impala actually.

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EPII should definitely offer the same interior and cargo volume of the current W-bodies if not more. The current Epsilon's problem is lateral width and trunk space - acceptable for the lower-end of the midsize segment, but not for the upper end that cars like the Camry are finally moving into.

It is a relief to here they will be just as big as the Impala then I honestly don't see a problem.

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My only problem with that is the potential delays in getting the zetas I want.

*nods*

Same here!

Well, that and the name....

*rolls eyes*

Speaking of which ... wouldn't it be ironic if the new RWD car was dubbed Lumina? Heh.

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"Surely this can be explained" ... Lonestar ... 'No News'

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From what Chevy has shown us the new Malibu is to replace the Impala FWD and the Impala/Caprice will be the new RWD offereing.

GM is being smart in offering a competitive FWD to compete with the imports and then off a RWD that they do not offer. Chevy will offer a car for everyone.

I have seen the old FWD Impala next to the New Malibu a few weeks back and the new car in near the same size as the present Impala. By just eyeballing the two the Malibu is just a little shorter and just a little less width but not enough that most would ever notice. Most of the length seemed lost in the nose or over hang. But the new Malibu is a bigger car with a larger interior than the present car.

Now keep in mind the new RWD will be nearly the same size as the present FWD Impala and G8. It may be a RWD but it is no way a thowback to the 70's and being a boat.

The plan GM has in place looks to be a win win as they will be adding a new exciting line but not giving up on a very popular line.

The final key that we don't know is how the Aveo and Cobalt will change to fill the low end small car market. Will the next Cobal be a litt larger and the Aveo stay the same?

Edited by hyperv6
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I read somewhere that Chevrolet was going to keep the fwd Impala or redesign it to compete against the new Taurus so Ford would not have that market to its self.

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Isn't the new 9-5 going to a strecthed Ep II version? Why not put the Impala on it.

I wouldn't call the Zeta Caprice though. just doesn't seem like it would go over well IMO.

The Ep2 Malibu is on the LWB version. The short wheelbase is for the Aura/Vectra/9-3.
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I'm not really surprised by the Impala's performance. To me, it is a blandly, but tastefully styled car (like the Camry) but it is VERY competent.

One thing I noticed when I last drove one. The AC can create a blizzard in your car even when driving in the Texas summer. It seems to me that GM air conditioners are always very strong.

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Agreed. I can have my fan speed set to 1 with the AC on, and at a cozy 82 degrees outside, it got winter-cold in my car yesterday.

The thing is, if I turn the AC off it gets very humid in the car. So what I end up doing is turning the temperature knob up.

...It won't be long before manual climate control goes the way of analog FM tuners. But this is a discussion for another thread.

While I am not amazed by the appearance of the Impala, I really like its very clean and classy appearance compared to other cars on the road.

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The thing is, if I turn the AC off it gets very humid in the car. So what I end up doing is turning the temperature knob up.

I'm not trying to be an ass... but you realize that's what it's for right?

I've never understood why people set the A/C or heat to either extreme and then turn the fan on and off.... set the temperature control somewhere in the middle... adjust minimally up or down as needed and leave the fan on medium low.

There is no difference between automatic climate control and manual climate control except that the cars adjusts the little temp knob for you to match a specific temperature. What you're essentially doing when you turn the knob all the way to cold is telling the car you want it as cold as you can get.

If I set the automatic climate control to it's lowest possible temperature in the CTS, I'd be cold too......

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I'm not trying to be an ass... but you realize that's what it's for right?

I've never understood why people set the A/C or heat to either extreme and then turn the fan on and off.... set the temperature control somewhere in the middle... adjust minimally up or down as needed and leave the fan on medium low.

It's something I have to remember to do because I'm used to just setting it to hot or cold. It's one of those things people set as soon as they get into the really hot or really cold car to change the temperature quickly. This strategy proves to have repercussions on longer road trips.

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I am not surprised by the Impalas performance in the sales charts. Seems like only the older folks are buying the Camry and Avalon blah cars and younger folks are buying Impalas and 500's and Chargers. I have to wonder how long the Impala will continue this upward trend in sales because Chevy will do nothing to update it the next couple of years and continue to decontent it and reduce models. I already overheard a couple looking at a 2008 Impala LS and they both commented that it no longer had the door strips std and no split rear seat or cup holder but everything else they looked at did, so Chevy would be very wise to not cheapen this car any further!

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Good for Impala-its a great value in the class, and it combines the best of both worlds-of Dodge Charger and Ford Taurus key rivals that is. After a Saturn Aura, if I were to make a new car purchase, it would probably be an Impala. Unlike the Charger and Taurus, a front split-bench seat is available on most models (one of a few things, another being ABS for ALL models that should be standard, IMO, at least on LS/LT trims), and decent engines, and of course the fuel economy-didn't the 2000-05 Impala's 3400 V-6 get like 32 MPG highway? If that's not great economy in a large, deservedly popular family car, I don't know what it is. Even though its front-drive and at the low end of the large car sector, it still strikes me as true to the Impala spirit, what all full-size Chevrolet's, from Delray, Biscayne, and Bel-Air, to Caprice Classic LS Brougham have stood for.

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Given how well the Impala is doing, I wonder if it should stay FWD and evolve, and call the Zeta car the Caprice....

YES
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Speaking of gas mileage, I was surprised myself a few years ago..I drove an Avis rental Impala from San Jose to Denver (stopped overnight in Reno) and got great gas mileage..pretty comfortable and smooth on I-80 also.

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Then what would you call a RWD Chevy? Could the DTS/Lucerne go on the 9-5 stretched platform along with the Impala? Or wouldn't it be big enough? Also could a small V8 and a 6spd. auto fit in there? I thought most people would want a RWD Impala especially around here. I warned Chevy along time ago. Now that I have seen the Malibu I fully support a RWD Impala actually.

Honestly, I'm not really sure.... There aren't that many choices really. It's pretty much between Caprice, Biscayne and Bel Air. As much as I'd love to see a new Bel Air, I'm almost certain that it wouldn't live up to peoples expectations simply because it is the quintessential classic Chevy.

I haven't seen the new 'Bu in the flesh, but I think it certainly has the potential to both pick up and both expand current Impala sales. My worry is that 1) GM will not effectively market the car and 2) Impala brand equity; if the buyer comes to Chevrolet looking for their basic "safe" Impala and finds a flashy RWD 300C competitor, yet has not been informed enough to know that the new Malibu has taken that slot, then that might mean lost sales.

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