By Jeff Gilbert

DETROIT  (WWJ) – Chevy is hoping to “de-throne” the Impala, and that’s a good thing.

For years, the Impala has been known as the “King of the rental cars.” But, Chevy Vice President Don Johnson expects the all-new 2014 model to change a lot of impressions.

“We see the mix shift going from about 70 percent fleet and 30 percent retail, really turning that around and becoming 70 percent retail.”
The new Impala has a sleeker look, with the latest GM technology, and an upgraded interior.

Johnson expects it to play in the heart of the full-size car market, competing with an all new Toyota Avalon, the Chrysler 300 and the Ford Taurus.

About 35 percent of people who are interested in full-size cars lease them. Because of deep discounting, the previous Impala had virtually no lease customers. Johnson says that will change with the new model.

“There are customers in that segment who want to lease,” he said. “That’s their preferred method of financing. We now have a vehicle that appeals to them.”

GM started running ads for the Impala last week. The first ads aim to show people there’s a new, very different vehicle. When Impala’s start reaching dealerships in larger numbers next month, GM says the ads will change to focus on the vehicle’s attributes.

You’ll see a lot of Impala ads in summer baseball games.

“When you think about who the customer is, it’s not only a great way to reach them, but again, it’s a great way to talk about the contents of the vehicle, and the whole craftsmanship that we feel went into the development and the build of this vehicle,” said Chevy Marketing Director Richard Martinek.

Impala production is now underway at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramk plant. The vehicle is also made at a plant in Oshawa, Ontario. Detroit-Hamtramk currently builds the Chevy Volt and Chevy Malibu, as well as the Impala.
The plant has 1500 workers, on one shift currently. The plan is to move to 3 shifts as the market warrants.

“Y’know, it’s something we take a lot of pride in,” says Assistant Plant Manager Lamar Rucker . “We are very engaged in the business. We’re fortunate that we have a workforce that understands that, and they appreciate the confidence that the company’s placed in us.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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