ORLANDO, Fla. -- General Motors plans to go on the offensive against Toyota with aggressive Chevrolet advertising.
GM executives told dealers last week at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention that they will try to blunt the Toyota Camry launch in the spring. GM will run head-to-head comparisons between the Chevrolet Impala and the 2007 Camry in March, dealers said.
Last fall, Chevrolet brought out a restyled, re-engineered 2006 Impala.
Chevrolet executives told dealers at the make meeting that the ads will stress fuel efficiency and other areas in which Chevrolet considers the Impala superior to the new Camry, said Scott Brasher, general manager of Brasher Motor Co. in Weimar, Texas.
It's a risky move to bring up a competitor in advertising, analysts say. But in this case it's necessary.
"When you're shooting at the top guy in the market, you basically have nothing to lose by trying to persuade your own owners, and perhaps other domestic owners, that there is no reason to defect to Camry," said Doug Scott, industry analyst with GFK Automotive in Southfield, Mich.
"Given Toyota's loyalty rate, it's very unlikely you will be persuading Camry owners or Toyota owners in general to defect the other way."
Scott noted two challenges GM faces in squaring off against the Camry.
The first would be if the new Camry turns out to be an improvement over the current model.
The second is that the already popular Camry gets a hybrid version.
Last year, Chevrolet sold 246,481 units of the Impala in the United States, compared with Toyota, which sold 431,703 units of the Camry.
Scott said of the advertising: "I would recommend it on the part of Chevy, but in my view it's more of a defensive measure than an offensive measure."
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