Retrospective

Once, twice, three times it's out: The continuously discontinued life of the Chevrolet Impala

For much of its life the Chevrolet Impala was categorized as a large car.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Chevrolet Impala has come and gone three times now. When the last model rolled off the assembly line at General Motors' Hamtramck plant this week, it marked the official end to the tenth generation of the legendary large car.

Before its sales dwindled in the late 2010s and sealed its fate, the Chevrolet Impala was one of the most popular sedans sold – at least in its early history. Starting with the 1958 model year, the Impala made a splash, coming to market as the top-tier version of the Chevy Bel Air. It was flashy with Corvette-like design cues and a longer body style than most of its competition.

1962 Chevrolet Impala The 1962 Chevrolet Impala, shown in a press photograph from the time of its debut. Photo by Getty Images

This was the heyday of the big car and Chevrolet was 100 percent on-trend.

Just one year after its arrival on dealership lots, the model was redesigned. The Impala now came in four variants: four-door hardtop, four-door sedan, two-door sport coupe, and two-door convertible. It had a standard inline six-cylinder engine. It also came standard with front and rear armrests, an electric clock, dual sliding sun visors, and crank-operated front vent windows.

1962 Chevrolet Impala Fern Lynn demonstrating the Valmobile Suitcase Scooter New York State, 1962 behind a Chevrolet Impala. The Valmobile folds into a package the size of a suitcase and fits into a car boot. Photo by Getty Images

A few years later Chevrolet would trim its V8 engine offerings to just seven. Speed and cruise control would become options as technology advanced.

Between 1959 and 1960, the only two years that featured that second-generation Impala, Chevrolet sold 490,000 models.

Chevrolet Impala The Chevrolet Impala went through several different redesigns during a short period in its early historyPhoto courtesy of Chevrolet

In 1961, the third generation of the Impala began when General Motors moved the model to the GM B full-size rear-wheel drive platform joining the Bel Air, Pontiac Bonneville, Oldsmobile Dynamic 88, and Buick LaSabre. Use of that platform by GM brands lasted from 1926 to 1996.

From there, the Impala had a rich history with families across the U.S. and beyond. As the 80s began, Chevy shifted the Impala to become their base level full-size car. The sedan was sold primarily as a fleet car during the first term of the Reagan administration until Chevrolet shelved it in 1985.

Chevrolet Impala The Impala of the 90s was powered by a V6, not the traditional V8 of yesteryear.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

In 1992, the Impala name was brought again as General Motors debuted the Impala SS as a concept car at the Detroit Auto Show. The model featured a body lower than the Caprice and an 8.2-liter engine.

Two years later, the 1994 Impala SS went into production with some design tweaks, including the engine, which was now shared with Corvette. And, just like that, Chevrolet discontinued the Impala again in 1996, this time to give the automaker more capacity to make more profitable SUVs.

1996 Chevrolet Impala Chevrolet saw success with the Impala Police Package.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Impala name was resurrected in 2000 to slap on the Chevrolet Lumina. With the rebadging, the Impala lost much of its previous identity. It was now a midsize car with a V6 engine. A supercharged Impala SS was sold starting in 2004, sharing its engine with the Buick Regal GS and the Pontiac Grand Prix.

In 2000, the vehicle also was released with a Police Package and an Underdover Police Package. With a stronger suspension and other interior changes from the mass market Impala, the model gained traction as a fleet vehicle.

Following a 2006 redesign, Chevy went back to its Impala roots a bit, giving the Impala SS a small-block V8 though the model was still a V8. It wasn't enough to convince buyers and the SS edition was shelved after the 2009 model year.

2014 Chevrolet Impala The 2014 Chevrolet Impala debuted at the New York International Auto Show in 2012.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Chevrolet went big with the 10th-genneration Impala, first showing it off at the 2012 New York International Auto Show. The model was bigger than the last iteration and it good reviews from noted publications. However, the praise was not enough to make the public purchase the car in the quantities they once had.

With the large car market sagging as demand shifted to SUVs and as the implementation of a General Motors business plan built on electrified mobility progressed, Chevrolet once again announced that the Impala program would end.

The final Chevrolet Impala rolled off the assembly line at the Detroit/Hamtramck plant on February 27, 2020.

General Motors has a habit of bringing old nameplates back (see: Hummer as the most recent example) so it may be too early to completely count the Impala out, though its days as a large sedan may be over for a while.

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A diamond mesh grille fronts the 2022 Kia K8.

PhPhoto courtesy of Kia Motorsoto courtesy of Kia Motors

Goodbye, Cadenza. Hello, K8. The Kia Cadenza is one of those cars that is easy forgotten about (if you ever knew about it in the first place) and frequently passed over in favor of the Toyota Avalon or the like. Still, most every automotive journalist who has driven it likes it.

So, Kia's taking the lessons learned from the Cadenza and some from the K5 and Stinger, and rolling them into a new large sedan, the 2022 Kia K8. This week the company unveiled the first official images of the car ahead of its debut. This is the first vehicle named the K8 in Kia history.

2022 Kia K8 The K8's headlights have integrated turn signals.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

2022 Kia K8

"Following our recent company rebrand, we keep moving toward our new brand values with a new model – the K8. This modern sedan has been designed with innovation and elegance at its very core," said Karim Habib, Senior Vice President and Head of Kia Global Design Center. "While paying homage to the K7, the K8 looks to the future. Its progressive exterior takes on character and emotion, and combines those qualities with an expressive looking front and a dynamic swooping rear, giving the K8 a high-quality, premium presence that takes direct inspiration from some of the world's most technically advanced yachts."

As seen in the photos, the car wears Kia's new logo on its badging, and has design lines reminiscent of the vehicles it has taken lessons from. There's a frameless tire nose grille with diamond lattice, turn signals integrated into the headlights, an elongated side profile, chrome finish along the bottom of the doors, and a roofline that trails off into the trunk. It's all very much from the Kia sedan lineup.

Kia promises that the car will have a "first class" interior that establishes "new benchmarks in premium quality". The sedan will deliver a high-performance driving experience yet be comfortable to ride in, according to Kia messaging.

The rear of the Kia K8 features elongated taillights.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Kia K8 is expected to arrive in showrooms later this year but the U.S. might not get it until after it's arrived in Korea and Europe.

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NXP Semiconductors has two chip plants in Texas that were effected by Winter Storm Uri.

Photo courtesy of NXP Semiconductors N.V.

The effects of Winter Storm Uri are still being felt across Texas and it's impacting the auto industry. Reporting by Reuters tells that chipmakers, like Samsung Electronics, are still weeks away from resuming normal operations in Texas.

Traditionally, this sort of production slowdown wouldn't much impact the industry. There would typically be enough dealership and inventory and automaker back stock to make up for many, if not all of the shortages for a short period of time. However, COVID-19 has put a strain on the chipmaking industry and is already slowing production, limiting sales, and hurting automaker bottom lines.

There's also been increased demand for semiconductor chips as sales of laptops, gaming consoles, and other entertainment and exercise equipment soared as coronavirus-related lockdowns changed lifestyles globally.

Ford and General Motors have both said that their 2021 sales and profits will be hit hard by the shortage. Additional analysis by Reuters says that Toyota has enough inventory to last four months while Hyundai and Kia, which share common ownership, purchased a stockpile of chips when production was going full steam in late December and are thus far unaffected.

Samsung and NXP Semiconductors shut their factories in Texas last month when Winter Storm Uri took hold. Like Lone Star State households, Texas businesses lost access to electricity, natural gas, and water.

Samsung's logic chip plant is located in Austin. It began operating 2017 and makes chips using Samsung's 14-nanometer, 28-nm and 32-nm chip production technologies. The facility is Samsung's biggest logic chip production facility outside of South Korea, where the company is headquartered. The company also has a NAND flash chip facility in Austin.

NXP's plants are also in Austin where the company has its corporate headquarters. While there are nine other NXP offices in the U.S., there are no other manufacturing sites.

Edward Latson, CEO of the Austin Regional Manufacturers Association, told Reuters that chipmakers now have the power, water and gas they need to operate, but they need time to restart tools and clean the factories. He characterized the process as being slow and "very expensive".

The one month of lost production is most likely to hit automakers hardest five months down the road, in the third quarter.

Many analysts had been predicting an uptick in new vehicle sales for 2021 after car sales rallied in the fourth quarter of 2020. However, these chip shortages are deeply impacting those sales predictions.

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