Chevy digs in

Back in September I called attention to a new Chevrolet Malibu ad campaign with the pithy lead “WE’RE TIRED OF BEING A FOREIGN CAR IN OUR OWN COUNTRY.” The bow-tie bunch isn’t giving up, either: the newest installment says “IT’S EVERYTHING YOU NEVER THOUGHT IT WOULD BE,” a shot at all those folks — a group which on occasion has included me — who wouldn’t be caught dead in a domestic automobile. (The ‘Bu is built at the Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas.)

Motor Trend, meanwhile, has declared the Malibu “the most important new Chevy sedan in decades,” though what makes it important to them might sound a mite unusual:

More important than anything is what Malibu can do for the Impala. Chevy sold 290,000 front-drive Impalas and 164,000 Malibus last year. If it can reverse those numbers, there’s a better business case for a RWD Impala.

I’d like to see a rear-wheel-drive Impala myself, but I can’t imagine GM wanting to cannibalize its own sales. Besides, the biggest problem with a rear-drive Impala is not the Malibu, but GM’s need to crank up its Corporate Average Fuel Economy numbers, which a full-sized two-ton sedan will presumably not enhance. And the Malibu can probably sell well enough on its own, given MT’s declaration that it “makes segment-leader Camry and the just-launched Accord look decidedly lumpen.”

If I seem to be harping on the Malibu a lot these days, it’s simply because I think we’re better off with an American auto industry that actually sells cars. And GM, after years of wandering in the desert, might actually be starting to find a path that leads somewhere: the General is cutting production on the hot-selling Buick Enclave in an effort to keep demand high and incentives out of the picture, a trick the imports have long known. “Nothing destroys the value of a new product faster than overproducing,” says GM car czar Bob Lutz. If the Malibu is a big hit, you can probably expect more artificial scarcity.





4 comments

  1. ms7168 »

    2 November 2007 · 2:38 pm

    I am currently driving the first “foreign” car for me ever. I have a Korean sister-in-law and her very first observation upon landing here in the States was how insane she thought it was for us to buy foreign cars! She said that Koreans don’t do that. My Dad has driven nothing but Mercedes and Nissans since the early 1980s

  2. CGHill »

    2 November 2007 · 3:33 pm

    Is it worth mentioning that both Mercedes-Benz and Nissan have US assembly plants?

  3. miriam »

    3 November 2007 · 3:57 pm

    Let me see if I have this straight: Consumers love these cars and want more of them. So GM should manufacture fewer of them? So people can’t buy them if they want to?

    Yes?

  4. CGHill »

    3 November 2007 · 4:08 pm

    This is actually being debated on some of the motorhead blogs, and exactly this point is being brought up.

    I still think GM is doing the right thing. This is the first Buick in ages that actually had advance orders (about 8000 of them according to Car and Driver) before it went into production. They’re taking a calculated risk that demand will stay high, and if demand remains high, they won’t have to give away half the profits in incentives somewhere down the road.

    Yes, the buyers could go elsewhere. How often are you satisfied with your second choice?

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