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Los Angeles Times: GM's past and present collide in sibling rivalry

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Chevrolet Malibu vs. Impala? Some call the present Malibu a great car but the older, simple Impala still outsells it. Here's what the Los Angeles Times observes, on the eve of the announcement of GM's viability plan.

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Exactly how the federal government will assess plans offered by GM and Chrysler remains uncertain. But Sunday, Obama administration insiders said there no longer were plans for a "car czar" to oversee restructuring. Instead, an interagency task force was in the works that would include two senior presidential advisors.

Yeah, because that's what they need.... More bureaucracy on top of the already HUGE bureaucracy that is choking the companies to death.

the Impala would seem to be a dinosaur, left over from the bad old days when GM cars were known as rolling rust buckets.

:rolleyes:

Like the "Chevrolet trucks are the most dangerous vehicles on the road" article, this is nothing more than a last ditch smear campaign aimed at one of GM's best sellers.

Yet when the Impala does make it into dealership showrooms, the car it competes with most directly appears to be the Malibu. Data from the website Edmunds.com shows that as many as a third of Impala owners thought about buying a Malibu, far more than any other car.

Well... That was all SUPPOSED to change with Zeta. But as usual, GM couldn't make a damn decision.

To become a profitable company, he argues, GM should eliminate more than two dozen models and half of its U.S. brands. "They have too many products, and some shouldn't exist," Peterson said.

Umm, yeah... SEE: the viability plan where GM said it would reduce itself down to 4 core divisions and 40 models.

Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook crossovers.

And by that standard, I guess the Lexus RX and Toyota Highlander are identical too, right? (I didn't think so)

Those fixed labor costs can lead GM to overproduce vehicles, forcing it to sell them, cheaply, into fleets or offer high incentives at dealerships; the Impala had cash-back rebates of more than $4,000 at times last year, according to Edmunds.com.

Both this and the dealership debacle painfully showcase what GM has become... An entity where the tail wags the dog.

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Problem is they are too close in size. And the Malibu is much more modern. Ford has done a better job differentiating the Fusion and Taurus in size, style and price point, and both are modern.

Edited by moltar
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But the massive costs involved in getting out of that cycle, Kleinbaum said, drive management to keep doing the same thing. "They face extremely hard choices about the future of the company, and they have historically chosen not to make a choice."

:cheers:

"They have so many children," Peterson said. "They can't afford to keep feeding them all."

And that's the REAL point of this article... To get GM to kill itself.

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Let's see.

1) The Impala is a fleet darling! Maybe GM should relegate it to that purpose only and get it off dealer lots. If GM really wants to shake off its dingy image, then products like this need to be "out of sight, out of mind" on dealer lots.

2) With incentives, the larger outdated Impala sells in the same price range as the Malibu?! A lot of people in the U.S. will always opt for the larger vehicle regardless of how ancient or bland it is, especially if it appears to be a better bargain. The fact that GM allowed this scenario to happen is perplexing. The midsize sedan should be selling in larger volumes than the brand's larger flagship sedan instead of the "faux" flagship sedan outselling the midsize sedan.

3) The Impala was purposely styled to be bland?! It seems to me that this design direction would aim the Impala straight at the heart of the Camry/Accord mainstream midsize appliance sedan segment. I thought GM made the current Malibu such a head turner to draw customers back to Chevrolet while attempting to establish the brand as the ultimate mainstream choice instead of a bargain basement alternative. Changing the perception of Chevy through this strategy is useless if GM continues to allow a slightly larger and similarly priced Impala to sit on dealer lots to distract attention away from the current Malibu. The current Malibu will never be able to reinvent Chevy as long as a bargain basement alternative sits on the same dealer lot.

4) The Impala won't be redesigned until a new Malibu is launched?! So, the Impala name will be allowed to become hopelessly synonymous with "cheap outdated large car" while continuing to undermine the current Malibu's sales performance. What a great way to build up equity in a model name: NOT!!!! Why not make plans to launch a new Impala on the LWB Eps II platform while the current LWB Eps I Malibu is out? It doesn't matter that the 2 cars will share a similar wheelbase measurement; the overall size and interior packaging of the car will be what differentiates the 2 products. A LWB Eps II based Impala should be around the same size as the upcoming 2010 LaCrosse; that would be enough of a difference to position the Impala back above the current Malibu instead of competing with the Malibu (after all, the current Impala actually has a shorter wheelbase than the current Malibu yet has more interior room). The next gen Malibu can then be slightly downsized and moved to the SWB Eps II platform so that everything would fall into place.

No wonder GM is perceived as a tired relic of the past. With the help of its dealers and unions, it has worked hard to achieve that perception. The corporation needs to make some hard and difficult decisions if it ever deeply desires to break out of this relentless and useless cycle. It is the only way that the corporation will ever move forward and truly ensure its longevity.

Edited by cire
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Unless the SWB EpII can deliver the same interior and exterior dimensions as the Camry forget about downsizing the Malibu. The Malibu is already smaller on the inside than a Camry.

The next gen Malibu can then be slightly downsized and moved to the SWB Eps II platform so that everything would fall into place.
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Unless the SWB EpII can deliver the same interior and exterior dimensions as the Camry forget about downsizing the Malibu. The Malibu is already smaller on the inside than a Camry.

Isn't that something GM has done for a long time---bigger on the outside, smaller on the inside than the competition?

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Accord, Camry, and Altima have gotten too large. They are at the point now where you they can't make them any bigger and still call them mid-size with a straight face. An Accord without the sunroof is technically classified as a full size now.

There needs to be less of a jump from the small car to the mid-size car.

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I understand the spirit of your comment. However, the Camry, Accord and Altima are among the best selling cars. You can't argue with nearly 1.1M sold in 2008. This basically tells us what the average American expects in the average car.

Accord, Camry, and Altima have gotten too large. They are at the point now where you they can't make them any bigger and still call them mid-size with a straight face. An Accord without the sunroof is technically classified as a full size now.

There needs to be less of a jump from the small car to the mid-size car.

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Isn't that something GM has done for a long time---bigger on the outside, smaller on the inside than the competition?

The execution of the packaging of the vehicle would need to be done in a way that would maximize interior space. I do agree that this is something that GM hasn't been successful at accomplishing in the past. I would hope that they are working to improve that situation.

The current Sonata is classified as a large car (although it competes in the midsize class) by the EPA based on interior volume. It is 188.9 inches long on a 107.4 inch wheelbase. The current Insignia (which is on SWB Eps II) is 190.2 inches long on a 107.8 inch wheelbase (dimensions that represent what a next gen SWB Eps II Malibu should be). If GM could create an attractive design that maximizes interior volume for the next gen Malibu on the SWB Eps II platform, then it could still be competitive. If Hyundai can do it, so can GM (although I don't want the next gen Malibu to look anything remotely like the Sonata).

The current Avalon is also classified as a large car by the EPA based on interior volume. It is 197.2 inches long (V6 model) on a 111.1 inch wheelbase. The 2010 LaCrosse is 197 inches long on a 111.7 inch wheelbase (dimensions that represent what a next gen LWB Eps II Impala should be). If GM can take the dimensions of the 2010 LaCrosse and create an attractive next gen LWB Eps II Impala design that maximizes interior space, then Chevrolet will have properly repositioned their flagship sedan while giving their midsize sedan enough room to effectively compete in its segment. I don't want the Impala to look anything remotely like an Avalon, but I do think GM could learn something from Toyota in regards to interior packaging.

Unlike the Asian companies, I think GM has the talent to create some next gen designs on both versions (SWB & LWB) of Epsilon II that properly balance exterior style and interior packaging. Properly balancing the two aspects (something that the Asian companies have failed to do; they err on the side of packaging at the expense of style) would make GM world class and more than competitive in regards to vehicle design.

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Isn't that something GM has done for a long time---bigger on the outside, smaller on the inside than the competition?

You forgot heavier

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Accord, Camry, and Altima have gotten too large. They are at the point now where you they can't make them any bigger and still call them mid-size with a straight face. An Accord without the sunroof is technically classified as a full size now.

There needs to be less of a jump from the small car to the mid-size car.

no, all those cars are a usable size now finally. the malibu needs to be sized to match them, and the new impala must be taurus or chrysler 300 sized.

in case you disagree, note that the altima and accord do fine with their four pots for acceleration and mileage, all while being low weight and giving maximum space to the consumer.

its the class of cars below this, (civic, cobalt) that need to grow in size (sentra sized or elantra sized) and fill that gap below.

in a class of car where you spend 25k plus, you should not be lacking for space.

the impala simply is this size by default. the previous malibu was smaller than it, and the impala is a w body, which basically defines it size.

the malibu does not fulfill the needs of a person who wants a sedan with the feel of a spacious car. its not quite wide enough, and overall cabin airiness is lacking with the low roof and tough visibility. These are the reasons the Impala sells, along with incentives. Personally i don't think this is a problem. Who would buy a 30k chevy sedan anyways? Better right now when the economy is tight to have a cheaper model that can actually move units. of course the taurus will really expose how behind the impala is now.

The current Impalas main problem is a cheap as $h! interior and bad powertrain choices and suspensions. If they simply remade the interior and put the 3.6/6 speed in it (they've already done this for the LaCrosse), they would have more cred.

the exterior shape of the impala is fine! just fix the other stuff!

by the way i am so tired of the 'gm's are rentals' $h!. hyundai is the rental king and hello, i drove by the hertz the other day. what 3 cars did they have parked by the door? new camry, accord, and mazda6. Japanese fleet cars. Hello people, get a clue. Its not just GM.

Yes Honda, fleeting the accord. we already know the camry is a fleet queen.

Edited by regfootball
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The Malibu is selling to private people and real families. These are true car sales and a very good car.

The Impala is still around due to fleet sales. LEts face it how many of these are sold to rental fleets, City fleets, taxis, and the great number now sold to law inforcment. A lesser percentage of overall sales are going to the public sector than the Malibu.

The Crown Vic has been kept around so many years just because of fleet sales and mostly law inforcement. Well GM had taken a large chunk of that with a V6 car that saves departments money.

Lets face it GM is still making money of this car and if they were not they would have killed it already.

The only people buying the Impala over the Bu are older people who what bench seats. If anyone under 60 has driven both cars would know after one test drive of each which one is the better car.

I suppose if GM did fleet sales of the Bu in great numbers they would bash it for being poor resale.They would comment how GM is dumping too many on the market form rental fleets to tarnish resale.

If cars companies were so easy to evolve and run we all would be doing it.

I do agree GM has too many models but when you need capital it is hard to kill some of them. But on the other hand GM has low profit models that need to be struck down.

Edited by hyperv6
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One cant blame GM for not making a Zeta RWD Impala. Thanks to the Mid East unstability, CAFE, up/down gas prices, and slow sales of gas eaters. The LX cars have tanked from the glory days of 4 years ago.

Camaro sells to different crowd, while 'loyal RWD' sedan buyers expect a 'deal' or wait to get used.

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One cant blame GM for not making a Zeta RWD Impala. Thanks to the Mid East unstability, CAFE, up/down gas prices, and slow sales of gas eaters. The LX cars have tanked from the glory days of 4 years ago.

Camaro sells to different crowd, while 'loyal RWD' sedan buyers expect a 'deal' or wait to get used.

I think there is some of that in Crown Vic and 300 buyers still I see some of that in Camaro buyers. Generally speaking buying the new Camaro will be "classier" than those who got the old one, and the red-neck mullet image is only associated with Camaro because alot of folks have gotten them used, not the people who really loved the car and actually paid for it new.

Edited by gm4life
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I'd still take an Impala over a Malibu/Aura any day of the week. I'm lukewarm on the G8 but I haven't driven one yet.

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Ugh.

Such nailbiting over the most boring class of cars on the planet...

That said, I was at the Chevy dealer yesterday and an older couple were there with their pair of new Impalas (his was an SS) gushing about how much they loved the cars and making sure that all 8 tires were inflated properly.

Make of that what you will.

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Having spent a good amount of time behind the wheel of a V6 Malibu with the best suspension with the 18 inch wheels I can say it is not a car just for old people.

The Malibu rides and handles as well as my 04 Comp G and the new HV V6 at 240 HP makes the 3800 SC feel like a Iron Duke. At this point I if gven the choice of a loaded Bu or GTP I would pick the Bu.

Also the new Six Speed Auto is as smooth as glass and moves the Bu along in a way few Chevys have in years.

Anyone who would pass a V6 Bu up for a Impala needs revaluate their standards.

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no, all those cars are a usable size now finally. the malibu needs to be sized to match them, and the new impala must be taurus or chrysler 300 sized.

in case you disagree, note that the altima and accord do fine with their four pots for acceleration and mileage, all while being low weight and giving maximum space to the consumer.

I agree that the Malibu needs to match them in size. I'm saying they can't get any bigger without being called full size. Malibu does just fine with with it's 4-cylinder. Road warriors like us would want more, but your average Camry 4-cylinder driver will be fine with it.

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