GM hopes to woo new customers with Impala, sets 70% retail sales goal

GM hopes to woo new customers with Impala, sets 70% retail sales goal
Mon, Apr 8 detroitnews.com

General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet brand is aiming to boost the lease rate on its flagship 2014 Impala sedan from about zero today to at least the segment average of about 35 percent, a Chevy executive said Monday.

The 2013 Impala is mostly a fleet vehicle

; 70 percent of sales are to fleet customers. But Chevy wants to sell 70 percent of the all-new 2014 Impala — just hitting dealerships — to retail customers, Don Johnson, vice president of sales and service for Chevrolet, said during a production launch event at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant.

The company has launched a $279 monthly lease for 36 months on the all-new Impala LT with a V-6 engine. The company says $2,799 is due at signing.

“There are customers in that segment who want to lease, that’s their preferred method of financing,” Johnson said. “And we now have a vehicle that appeals to them. We want to make sure they have a financial option that appeals to them as well.”

Carmakers and dealers like leasing because buyers return to showrooms every few years.

Johnson said Chevy expects to grow its full-size segment lead with the Impala, taking sales from segment competitors and attracting buyers from the midsize segment, crossovers, utilities, luxury vehicles and imports.

“We’re looking forward to grow segment share and really attract people from other segments into the large car segment,” he said, adding that exterior design is becoming the main reason for buying in the full-size segment.

But buyers have strayed from the full-size segment. Market share in the large-car segment has fallen from 8 percent of U.S. sales in 2007 to about 4 percent in 2012, according to Kelley Blue Book.

Chevy also expects to attract younger, more professional buyers with its new Impala, said Rich Martinek, senior manager of Chevrolet advertising.

Retail buyers of the 2013 Impala are in their early 60s on average; nearly two-thirds are men.

GM anticipates the 2014 Impala buyer will average 55 to 60 years old, 60 percent will be male and buyers will have a median household income close to the segment average of $85,000 to $90,000 a year. Today’s Impala buyers have a household income in the low-$60,000 range, GM said.

The automaker has about 500

new Impalas in dealerships, with 2,000 in transit, said Jon Hahn, Impala marketing manager.

The company already has sold several dozen 2014 Impalas across the U.S., including in Metro Detroit, Hahn said.

Production of the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder 2014 Impala began Monday at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant. The facility also will build 3.6-liter V-6 versions of the 2014 Impala.

The Impala also is built in Oshawa, Ontario. Oshawa will be the lone production site for the 2.4-liter engine, with eAssist technology coming in the fourth quarter.

GM also will sell a 2014 Impala Limited model, essentially the older style Impala, for fleet customers. Johnson would not say how long GM will offer Impala Limited, but said it could continue beyond the 2014 model year

if there is demand.

Combined with Impala Limited, Chevy is expecting higher Impala sales in 2013 over 2012 figures, Johnson said. Chevy sold 169,351 Impalas in the U.S. last year.

Detroit-Hamtramck workers also build GM’s extended-range, battery-powered Chevrolet Volt and Chevy Malibu sedan.

mburden@detroitnews.com

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