Before taking charge of General Motors' full-sized truck platform in July, vehicle line executive Gary White headed the development and launch of the new Chevrolet Impala and redesigned Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
White discussed those two cars and the future of the Chevrolet Lumina, which is still in production at least through the end of 2000, with Staff Reporter Joe Miller on Nov. 23. The following are edited excerpts:
Do you expect the Impala to do better than the Lumina when you have a full production year in 2000?
What we wanted to do with the Impala is focus more on the retail part of the business, and maybe some commercial fleet sales, but less on daily rental. So in terms of retail and commercial, we'll definitely outperform the Lumina. With daily rental sales, we'll keep it at a manageable level. With cars like the Ford Taurus and Lumina, more than 40 percent go into fleets. That just does nothing for your lease residuals. People come back in to trade in the car, and they're not worth anything.
We are, because of the reaction to the Impala in the marketplace, looking at opportunities to increase the capacity.
Why not get rid of the Lumina now?
It will go away. The intent of continuing to build that car is almost like buying options. We're not building it in the same plant (Oshawa No. 1 in Ontario) where we're building the Impala and Monte Carlo. We wanted to hedge the Buicks (at Oshawa No. 2). If you overbuild the Centurys and Regals, where are they going to go? They're going to go into rental fleets, and the residuals will tank.
The Lumina has had a tremendous run. It's one of those nondescript cars that does its job well. It's the same formula that worked so well for the Japanese all those years.
How about the Monte Carlo?
That was the fun car to do out of the two. We've been segment leader with that car, about 70,000 to 80,000 sold per year. The new design went to the customer clinics and just knocked the socks off the people.
Now what we're seeing are some empty-nesters coming back to the coupe.