It's a sad goodbye for some of the workers who have spent decades building the sedan.
At the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, the final Chevrolet Impala has officially rolled off the production line. As we reported a few days ago, it brings to an end the production of the iconic nameplate for the manufacturer, with the original Impala initially launched in 1957. The event took place yesterday morning and, for many of the factory's workers, it was a sad day.
One of the passionate builders of the Impala is Joe Nickowski. At 62, he worked at the Detroit-Hamtramck facility for 43 years, according to the Detroit Free Press. "It's time to go," said Nickowski. "It's time to pass the torch to these younger people to have the chance to build these great vehicles. Just like the Impala, I hate to see it go, but it's the sign of the times."
Nickowski couldn't have spoken truer words when he said: "it's a sign of the times". Not only are traditional, large sedans a much less popular market segment than before - as buyers lap up thousands of SUVs each month - but the Impala uses an internal combustion engine, the likes of which will no longer be produced at the plant. Instead, the plant will be renovated over the next year, enabling the production of battery electric vehicles like the GMC Hummer.
Over 2,000 people will be employed at the re-imagined plant, although Nickowski won't be one of them as he retires this week. "It's gonna be sad, it really is," he said. "I put everything I could into building a quality vehicle here and at all the plants I've worked at. I hate to see it go."
Nickowski will take some good memories along with him, though. He recalls the arrival of the Cadillac CT6. "Being that it was an all-aluminum car, that was really exciting because I was a metal finisher and it was exciting to learn working with steel and working with aluminum." Along with the Impala's demise, General Motors is also stopping production of the CT6 and the Buick LaCrosse.
With these luxury sedans now behind us, GM hopes that prioritizing SUVs and trucks, along with electrified powertrains, will help it see increased sales success over the next couple of years. An uncertain but intriguing future is in store for the automaker.