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Driving It Home

GM to invest in U.S. plants, ignore Canadian-built Impala Add to ...

General Motors CEO Dan Akerson said today in Toledo, Ohio that his company would invest about $2-billion to upgrade 17 plants across eight U.S. states over the next few years (all figures in U.S. dollars).

"We've allowed in all of our plans for additional capacity demands," Akerson told Bloomberg today. "But we don't want to get in over or heads and ahead of the demand curve."

Alas, there was nothing in this big investment for Canada. GM's plants in Canada are, in fact, some of the very best in the company. Independent studies show they are efficient and produce high-quality vehicles.

And one of the GM vehicles built in Canada is the Chevrolet Impala. If one vehicle in Chevy's lineup needs to be transformed, it's the Impala.

As Automotive News points out, Consumer Reports' annual ratings show that GM's average test score improved from 65 to 67 this year. That places GM 12th among 13 ranked auto makers. The Impala was one of the "lackluster cars" that dragged down GM's score.

The Impala is as "old GM" as any of the company's current offerings could be. It is built on a nearly 20-year-old platform and under the hood is a dated V-6 pushrod engine. The new four-bangers we're seeing in cars like the 2011 Hyundai Sonata are vastly superior to that old V-6.

Yet GM seems to have forgotten the Impala. Various sources suggest the Impala won't get a full redesign until 2014 - 14 years from the last full remake.

When Rick Scheidt, Chevy's marketing vice-president tells Automotive News, "There's no doubt that the Impala is longer in the tooth than we would traditionally run a vehicle," he is showing an impressive mastery of understatement.

A few weeks back, Ford Motor made a big deal out of the coming remake of the Ford Taurus due next spring and less than four years from the last Taurus update.

GM would be well served to remember that the Impala is a storied Chevy nameplate, much like the Taurus at Ford. Seems to me the Impala is long overdue for a little love and respect.

But none came from Akerson in his big announcement today.

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