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Platform is still stuck on RWD, but exhibits gains from eAssist, DI

The Chevy Impala is a name with a lot of history attached.  One of General Motors (GM) oldest models, it first debuted in 1958 and for a time was the best-selling automobile in the country.  Chevy today announced its plans for the new 2014 Impala, which was previewed at the New York Auto Show.

The new model will be based around three different engines:
  • 2.4 L LUK Ecotec 182 hp (136 kW) I4 w/ eAssist
  • 2.5 L Ecotec 197 hp (147 kW) I4
  • 3.6 L LFX 303 hp (226 kW) V6
All of the engines will come with six-speed transmissions -- increasingly an industry standard, given that more gears helps automakers better balance power and fuel efficiency.

Chevy Impala
The 2014 Chevy Impala [Image Source: GM]

The eAssist model uses GM's second generation belt-driven battery/motor system.  While less powerful than power-split architectures where the generator is directly driven by the drive shaft, the second gen system does offer more hybrid energy recapture, with a 15 kW (20 hp) motor-generator that delivers 79 lb·ft (107 N·m) of torque.  Further, it's inexpensive and simple, making cost of ownership and repairs less intense than with traditional power-split hybrids like Toyota Motor Comp.'s (TYO:7203) best-selling Prius.

The Ecotec engines also bring direct injection to the Impala for the first time.  Cumulatively these allow the 2.4L LUK Ecotect/eAssist Impala to get an estimated 35 MPG.

The vehicle will feature Chevy's nascent MyLink infotainment/services platform, paired with a 4.2-inch LCD screen.  It will also come with LED daytime running lights and a stacked technology options package, which includes, "full-speed-range adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, rear camera and rear-park assist".

Chevy Impala
The interior is complemented by a MyFord Touch-like infotainment system.
[Image Source: GM]

The Chevy Impala platform continues to be front-wheel driven (FWD).  The sales downturn and subsequent bankruptcy shelved plans for a RWD transitition.

The key for GM will be the pricing of this mild hybrid.

Source: GM

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RE: That's it?
By tayb on 4/5/2012 9:45:47 AM , Rating: -1
Am I supposed to be impressed by a 39% improvement over 7 years? Seriously?

RE: That's it?
By ebakke on 4/5/2012 10:03:19 AM , Rating: 4
Yes. Unless you've got something better to offer.

RE: That's it?
By tayb on 4/5/12, Rating: -1
RE: That's it?
By amanojaku on 4/5/2012 10:09:33 AM , Rating: 5
Your newest comment was 200% dumber than your first comment, so you're doing better than GM. Compare GM to Audi or Toyota. Engines != CPUs

RE: That's it?
By StraightLine on 4/5/2012 5:17:40 PM , Rating: 2
It's a matter of physics. There's only so much energy in a gallon of gasoline, and cars are pretty heavy.

RE: That's it?
By Dan Banana on 4/7/2012 9:40:54 PM , Rating: 2
It's a matter of physics. There's only so much energy in a gallon of gasoline, and cars are pretty heavy.

Most IC engines are only 20% thermodynamically efficient at best last I heard, so the physics also say a lot of that energy is being completely wasted.

RE: That's it?
By Keeir on 4/5/2012 11:42:06 AM , Rating: 4

40% over 7 years is a year rate of increase of ~5%.

Thats a HUGE number. If cars improved in fuel economy at 5% a year, every 15 years the fuel economy would -double-. Over 30 years, the fuel economy would quadruple.

If the same 5% had occured, those cars in the 80s that got 25 MPG? We'd be looking at 100 MPG.

5% IS AMAZING in mature technology. Of course, its not 5%. Its more like 4% when you compare the actual 2005 Impala.

But still 4% is pretty good. That's doubling fuel economy every 20 years.

You analogy about the relatively new technology of microprocessors is not really a good comparison. Microprocessors are a fundementally different technology.

Automobiles (ICE) are limited by a few factors

1.) Otto Cycle engines are a best ~60% efficient at any sane operating temperature. Thats hard physics.
2.) We expect cars engines to last 200,000-250,000 miles
3.) We expect cars to be safey every year
4.) We expect cars to have more features every year
5.) We expect cars to contain certain volume every year
6.) We expect cars to be "good looking"
7.) We expect cars to perform to certain standards

When you roll all this up, your looking at best case ~40 MPG combined cycle for a car in the Impala class (though with the mild hybrid its probably more like ~45 MPG). This number hasn't changed since 2005. This new Impala closes nearly 1/2 the gap between actual and theoritical that existed in 2005. That is an amazing accomplishment/improvement. At the same time, the new Impala is better looking, safer, and has more features!

(As an aside, I think this new Impala still loses to the Ford Taurus for its class of cars overall. But for -GM- this is a HUGE improvement in product quality over the previous Impala or well other products they make)

RE: That's it?
By Alexvrb on 4/7/2012 7:54:37 PM , Rating: 2
How does it lose to Taurus exactly? The 2012 Impala 3.6L gets 18/30 MPG. Even the upcoming 2013 Taurus with a naturally aspirated 3.5L at the same price points gets EPA 19/29 MPG. So they're pretty close there. Impala makes 12 more HP and 8 more ft-lbs.

The *current* 2012 Taurus is even further behind in power, and gets slightly worse mileage (18/28). Now the Taurus SHO on the other hand is a completely different animal, but it also has a completely different price! That one competes with other cars entirely, elsewhere in GM (and other companies) lineups.

Anyway, these new 4 cyl drivetrains should be sufficient for most drivers and they make pretty decent mileage for a large (by today's standards) family sedan.

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