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Ada, Oklahoma, United States
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
With all of the attention given to the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray lately, you could be forgiven for thinking that it's already well along in production, yet tooling up for the new C7 has only just begun. In fact, production of the outgoing C6 generation in Bowling Green, Kentucky just halted on Thursday.
As the C6 has aged, production numbers have predictably ebbed along with demand, but this year, the addition of the 427 and 60th anniversary models resulted in an uptick in vehicles built - this, despite a model year shortened by around 25 percent to accomodate the new model changeover. The final C6 Corvette ever, No. 13,466 built this year, was a white 427 Convertible destined for the General Motors Heritage Center museum. The car's 7.0-liter V8 heart was assembled by Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter himself.
In total, Bowling Green pushed out 215,100 C6 Corvettes over nine years. If you're still a C6 fan at heart and are hoping to get a good deal on a phase-out model, step lively - Chevrolet reportedly had about 6,100 unsold units, which Autoweek suggests is good for around five and a half months of supply at the model's current sales rates. Given that demand will likely slacken even further as the C7 draws closer, that should be a big enough stockpile to keep dealers satisfied until 2014 Stingrays begin showing up on their forecourts in December.
While most of the world is still coming down from all the hype surrounding the debut of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this month, we're already looking to the future. And according to Autoweek, the next chapter in the C7 story will unfold at the Geneva Motor Show in March. That's right, General Motors is reportedly using the Swiss stage as its venue to debut the Corvette Stingray convertible.
If this strikes you as odd, you aren't alone. After all, with a car that's such an American icon, we'd fully expect Chevrolet to unveil it here on our shores in either Chicago or New York. But according to Autoweek, GM is looking to boost export sales of its halo car, and since the C7 was engineered to compete with the world's best and brightest, showing it off in Geneva is somewhat of a smart move. What's more, those with sharp memories will recall that GM used the Geneva expo to debut the sixth-generation C6 Corvette convertible back in March 2004, so there's also a precedent.
Details surrounding the Corvette Stingray convertible are still slim, though we fully expect the 6.2-liter V8 and choice of either six-speed automatic or seven-speed manual transmissions to carry over unchanged. Prototypes spotted on the road showed the car fitted with a cloth convertible roof, as well.