The last week of February 2020 marked the end of the Chevrolet Impala but not for the first time. The last Chevrolet Impala, in a bright cherry red, rolled off the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly line around 8:30 Thursday morning. Born as a trim level atop Chevrolet’s full-size model range in 1958 the Impala was bold from the outset.
Through the mid-‘60s, the Impala was a volume leader for Chevrolet and recorded more than a million sales in one year with the redesigned 1965 model and its sweeping roofline. In 1966, the Caprice became the top full-size Chevy, and in 1986 the Impala nameplate was retired. But, in 1994 the Impala was back and would reclaim the top-of-the-line position from the Caprice with the V-8 powered Impala SS. But in 1996 both the Caprice and Impala ended production in the US in 1996.
The Impala debuted again for the 2000 year and from 2000–08, Chevrolet sold an average of 250,000 Impalas every year in the U.S., but sales never bounced back after the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
The final generation of the Impala debuted for the 2014 model year as W-body Impalas continued for fleet use as the Impala Classic through 2016. The new, bigger car was lauded by critics as vastly improved, and while sales were not bad for its segment, they’ve been trending down. Last year, sales fell 20 percent, with fewer than 50,000 of the big cruisers finding owners.
The Impala has a long and somewhat patchy history as GM’s top sedan. It was the most beautiful four-seater and also the quickest car they built at times, yet it languished as a fleet special later in its life, only to be reborn as a competitive and well-built family car.
The Detroit-Hamtramck plant will no longer make internal combustion engine vehicles. Instead, it will be retooled to the tune of $2.2 billion over the next 12 to 18 months for the production of all battery electric vehicles.
GM plans to build a GMC Hummer electric pickup for sale later next year and the self-driving Cruise Origin EV along with other new electric trucks at the plant. When it’s at full production, GM expects to employ 2,200 people at Detroit-Hamtramck.