GM preps new Chevy model for showrooms, NASCAR race circuit
The Impala -- GM's current NASCAR entry -- is built on a 20-year-old platform. The next Impala -- due in 2014 -- will share a platform with the Cadillac XTS, Automotive News reported last year.
Photo credit: GM
- 2012 European Automakers: Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Volkswagen
- 2012 Chrysler-Fiat Future Product
- 2012 Japanese Automakers: Infiniti, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Suzuki
- 2012 Ford Product Plans
- 2012 Korean and Chinese Automakers Future Product
- 2012 European Automakers: Aston Martin, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Rolls-Royce, Smart, Volvo
- 2012 Japanese Automakers Product Plans: Acura, Honda, Lexus, Scion, Toyota
- 2012 GM Product Plans
DETROIT -- General Motors will replace its Impala NASCAR entry with a new model that it also will sell to consumers.
GM said Tuesday the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race car and the showroom model will closely resemble each other and will debut in 2013 as a new Chevy nameplate. It will unveil the cars later this year, GM said.
In a statement, GM said it's taking advantage of new NASCAR rules that allow automakers to feature more of their brands' identities in their race cars.
"We are keeping the wraps on the new car for now and will continue to prepare for next season by testing camouflaged vehicles," said Jim Campbell, vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports for Chevrolet. "We know that Chevrolet fans are eager to see the new race car and we hope that the prospect of being able to own one just like it will make the wait a little more bearable."
Chevrolet currently races the Impala in NASCAR's top stock car racing circuit, and the aging sedan will be redesigned on a platform shared with the Cadillac XTS.
It is scheduled to go on sale in early 2013 as a 2014 model.
The Impala has raced in NASCAR's Sprint Cup series since 2007, when it replaced the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, a full-sized coupe.
Analysts expect the new model to be based on a vehicle imported from GM's Holden unit in Australia.
Chevrolet has recently revived the Caprice name for a rear-wheel drive police car that is based on the same Holden platform used by the discontinued Pontiac G8. The Caprice PPV is sold only to U.S. law enforcement agencies.
Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis at automotive research firm AutoPacific, said he is under the assumption that the new car could be a version of the Commodore, built by Holden and formerly sold in the United States as the G8.
"For a long time they've been talking about it," Sullivan said. "They wanted it to be a Chevy originally instead of a Pontiac, but then the G8 went away."
The Holden Commodore and Caprice are built off the same platform.
Sullivan -- noting the lobbying efforts of former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, who championed the G8 -- believes the company will bring the car over as a performance sedan to take on the Dodge Charger.
Chrysler's performance division -- SRT -- had "a big hand" in developing the NASCAR Charger styling and Ford will use the new 2013 Fusion design as a body kit for its stock car, Sullivan said.
Sullivan added GM can make the switch rather quickly and without spending a lot of money.
"I'm envisioning a recycled G8 but it could also be the Caprice," he said, warding off suspicion of a re-named Impala or the current Caprice PPV as "too big" to be successful in NASCAR.
Said Sullivan: "They don't have to sell a lot of them, it just has to create some buzz and get people into showrooms."
Jim Hall, principal of consulting firm 2953 Analytics Inc. in suburban Detroit, said the NASCAR version of the vehicle -- whatever it will be -- will be so different under the hood from any kind of showroom car, and vice versa, that the NASCAR vehicle will have the body and graphics of whatever Chevrolet decides it wants it to be but could not technically be the same car.
"NASCAR cars are all very similar," Hall said. "[Chevrolet's car] will have rear-wheel drive, some matter of small block V-8 … maybe with some kind of direct fuel-inject."
Regardless, Hall says, "They're not going to race a production car."
You can reach Mike Colias at firstname.lastname@example.org.