Beyond new home, major makeover and Caddy platform await Impala
|Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News|
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Now that we know where the next-generation Chevrolet Impala will be assembled, what has been discovered about the redesigned car?
For one thing, the Impala will be large, with dimensions similar to today's Impala. Second, it will share a front-wheel-drive platform with a new Cadillac.
General Motors announced Wednesday that the future Impala will be produced at the automaker's plant in Detroit-Hamtramck, Mich., alongside the Chevrolet Volt and the upcoming restyled and re-engineered 2013 Malibu. Today the Impala is assembled at GM's Oshawa, Ontario, plant.
The Hamtramck plant has been home to the Cadillac DTS and the Buick Lucerne. The last DTS was assembled this week and the Lucerne will be put to rest in a few weeks.
While GM did not provide a time frame, model year or any information about the new Impala, sources say production of the new sedan will begin in November or December 2012. Sales will begin in the first quarter of 2013, and the car will be a 2014 model.
The new Impala and the upcoming 2013 Cadillac XTS sedan will share the longer version of GM's re-engineered Epsilon platform, I'm told. The platform is engineered for all-wheel drive, although it is unknown if Impala will offer that feature. The XTS goes into production next year. The XTS, however, is expected to be assembled in Oshawa, the same plant that produces the Chevrolet Camaro and Buick Regal.
GM has not announced where the XTS will be assembled.
Photo credit: GM
The next Impala will move upmarket in price and features, I'm told. The 2014 Impala will be the flagship of Chevrolet's sedan line. Think Taurus: A similar strategy was adopted for the current Ford Taurus, which was restyled, re-engineered and repositioned for the 2010 model year, providing a wider gap from the Fusion.
Today there's too much price overlap between the current Malibu and Impala, I'm told. To separate the cars, Chevrolet will add standard equipment to the Impala and offer technology not available in today's model.
As the Impala moves up in price and becomes a more premium sedan, the expectation is that some Impala owners will move down to the cheaper Malibu.
Timing is another issue. If the redesigned Malibu is delayed beyond its scheduled production start in the first quarter of 2012, the Impala's launch likely will be pushed back.
Chevrolet does not want to introduce its most important cars by volume -- Impala and Malibu -- a few months apart.