Say it ain't so, Bob! Automotive News
is reporting that since General Motors
' plans for a rear-wheel-drive Impala
replacement that's based on the Australian-sourced Zeta platform are up in the air (you can thank the U.S. government and its never ending debate on a CAFE increase for that), a backup plan for a front-wheel-drive is in place. The candidate platform would be the Epsilon II chassis set to underpin the next generation Opel
Vectra and Saturn Aura
, as well as the next Malibu
(OMG, we're already talking about the next
Malibu?). Though a higher CAFE standard could torpedo plans for a rear-wheel-drive Impala replacement, the case for another front-wheel-drive Imp isn't necessarily on solid ground either. With the Malibu having grown in size considerably, the current Impala and Malibu cast similarly sized shadows now, and to develop another FWD replacement would only further some confusion between the two models.
The Impala is currently GM's best-selling car
across all brands with 270,504 units sold so far this year and 20,791 sold last month alone. The Malibu, meanwhile, only sold 5,975 units in October, but we expect its monthly sales to rise quickly once the new model hits dealer
showrooms. There's little to celebrate, however, if the Malibu's new sales come from the Impala's column. Thus, it's imperative that GM
find a way to differentiate the two models while maintaining the Impala's appeal. Switching the Impala to RWD and drawing on the car's heritage would be a perfect way to do that, but if the CAFE debate doesn't go the Impala's way, this new plan B appears the way to go.
[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]