Summerville, South Carolina, United States
We've just received an early peek at the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible here at the Geneva Motor Show. General Motors was kind enough to let us attend the final dress-rehearsal for its press conference scheduled for tomorrow's opening media day, and we've come away with a good look at the droptop C7 in person.
In the metal, the new Corvette Convertible seems somehow less avant-garde than the Coupe, even in Z51 Performance Package guise. That's not necessarily a bad thing - more of an observation. That initial impression may be because the C7's new greenhouse is one of its most prominent departures from Corvettes past. While we didn't get to see the top erected, there's no rear side window in the stock images that Chevy has already released, suggesting the C7 convertible's profile will look a lot like its C6 predecessor. And with the new power tonneau cover in place, there are also no rear ducts that come as part of the Z51 package (they've been moved under the car).
As with its predecessor, the tonneau is a handsome double-bubble piece, and the body-color "waterfall" element into the cabin between the seats has made it to the new model as well. Thus, the overall look with the top down should be a bit more familiar to prior-gen C6 owners - if you're one of those put off by the C7's new shape, you'll probably appreciate the convertible bodystyle more than the coupe.
As inventory of the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse continues to pile up, General Motors will be idling its Fairfax Assembly Plant for two weeks, according to Automotive News. This move comes about a month after the plant was shut down for three weeks in late December and early January for the same reason. As of January 31, the GM had a 94-day supply of Malibu stock while the LaCrosse was a little worse with a 117-day supply.
Just last week, GM announced that it would be investing $600 million in upgrading this plant, but it's unclear what future plans the company has in store for Fairfax considering slow sales of both the plant's models. We do expect a refreshed and more luxurious LaCrosse shortly and an early design update for the Malibu to be announced at some point this year, although we have had no official word as to when either will happen.
Can A Fleet Queen Become a Fullsize King?
On paper, the Chevrolet Impala is a pretty strong seller, posting annual sales that have hovered right around 170,000 units for the last two years, but it only takes one trip to practically any rental car agency to discover where the majority of those sales have come from. In fact, General Motors told Autoblog that a full 70 percent of Impala sales last year went to fleet companies for things like rental cars and government vehicles. Logic tells us that this is neither good for resale values nor name equity, so Chevrolet is getting ready to roll out an all-new Impala with improved comfort, styling and technology, hoping to turn the tables on its retail-to-fleet ratio.
Chevrolet's sedans have come on quite strong in the last few months with the introduction of the Cruze diesel and the SS sedan, but while these will likely be low-volume sellers, there's more pressure for the new Impala to perform well as GM looks to slash fleet sales and compete with the wide variety of full-size sub-luxury sedans. Riding on a platform shared with the Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac XTS, the 2014 Impala will compete against the Hyundai Azera, Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon on the more traditional side, while also looking to take a bite out of somewhat sportier models like the Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger twins and the Nissan Maxima. We headed to sunny San Diego to see if this totally new Impala can stand on its own without the assistance of fleet companies and rental agencies. [w/video