NEW YORK – Chevrolet is trying to flip the ratio of fleet vs. retail sales for the newly launched ’14 Impala.
Two-thirds, or 70%, of last year’s model went to fleets. However, the first 500 10th generation Impalas produced this year all have gone to retail customers, says Jon Hahn, marketing manager.
“We're focusing on retail sales this year,” he says, declining to predict whether the all-new model will eclipse its predecessor in overall deliveries. Last year, Chevrolet sold 170,000 Impalas. Tipping the mix to retail is made easier because the previous-generation Impala will continue to be sold to fleets.
Putting an emphaisis on retail deliveries for the ’14 Impala will increase margins on the car, which comes in three trim levels.
The base model LS, which Hahn forecasts will account for 25% of Impala sales, has a starting price of $27,550, while the LT model is expected to garner 55% and is priced at $29,785. The flagship LTZ is seen capturing the remaining 20% with a starting price of $34,555.
Hahn predicts average transaction prices will be less than $30,000 for the LS, in the mid- to upper-$30,000s for the LT and under $40,000 for the LTZ. He also notes the Impala’s price is lower than theTaurus, Maxima, Azera and Toyota Avalon.
Hahn expects 60% of Impala deliveries to include V-6 engines, which command a premium of slightly less than $1,000. But in the LTZ model, the take rate will be 95% for the V-6 and only 4% will opt for the 4-cyl. model, he says. Nearly half of Impala purchasers will take the safety package that includes blindspot monitoring, lane-departure warning and rear cross-traffic warning.
The first Impala models sold were on dealer lots for less than a week. “We're just filling the pipeline now,” he says. The initial plant to produce the Impala is' Oshawa, ON, Canada, facility. GM’s Hamtramck, MI, factory still is in its early ramp-up stage for the ’14 model.
Hahn predicts overall Impala production eventually will be split evenly between the two operations. “We're looking for pretty good volumes from both plants for the car.”
The new Impala also will be sold in Mexico, Canada and some countries in the Middle East, “(but) it's not a global car,” he says. However, the '14 model is built on GM's global Epsilon platform that also underpins the Chevy Malibu, Cadillac XTS, Buick LaCrosse and Regal and Opel Insignia.
The Impala competes in the large-sedan segment that saw sales of about 600,000 units last year. Its main competitors, along with the LaCrosse, Taurus, Azera, Avalon and Maxima, are the300, Dodge Charger and Kia Cadenza. The Impala was the segment leader in 2012, driven mainly by fleet sales.
The ’14 Impala is heavier than its predecessor, and some of that is due to its 10 airbags and more electronic and entertainment equipment. It is sleeker this year, with a coefficient of drag 14% better than the ’13 model; cd is 0.29 for the 4-cyl. version and 0.30 for the V-6 version.
Chevrolet is not planning to offer an all-wheel-drive Impala. However, a mild-hybrid model will be available later this year.