Chevrolet is gradually plucking sedans and hatchbacks from its American range. It quietly confirmed it will soon end production of the 2020 Chevy Sonic, one of its most affordable cars, in order to free up production capacity to build an EV.
Ford ruffled more than a few feathers when it trumpeted its plans to pivot away from sedans and hatchbacks in 2018. Chevrolet is following the exact same path, but it's taking a more subtle approach. Sonic production will end in October 2020, a spokesperson told CNBC, and the Detroit-area Orion Assembly factory that makes it will be retooled to manufacture a Bolt-based electric crossover tentatively called Bolt EUV. It's due out in 2021.
Chevrolet explained it's putting the Sonic out to pasture without a replacement in sight "due to declining demand," and its decision is hardly surprising. Demand for small cars -- especially hatchbacks -- collapsed during the second half of the 2010s. CNBC pointed out the company sold about 100,000 examples of the Sonic in 2014, yet it only managed to move 13,971 units off dealer lots in 2019. To put that figure into perspective, the Sonic was outsold by the Bolt (16,418 units), the Corvette (17,988 units), and the ancient Express van (77,457 units). Combine the Sonic's poor sales with Chevrolet offering two similarly sized crossovers, the Trax and the Trailblazer, and it's easy to see why the company is letting the model die off.
With the Impala out of the way and the Sonic on death row, Chevrolet's range will include a single sedan, the Malibu, and one hatchback, the Spark. Neither are long for this world. Insiders suggest the ax will fall on the Malibu at the end of the 2023 model year, meaning about halfway through 2022. That's two years earlier than expected. Details about the Spark's future remain murky, but we wouldn't bet on seeing a next-generation model.
Sister company Buick is binning its sedans, too; it confirmed it will stop selling the Regal at the end of the 2020 model year. Cadillac is the only General Motors-owned brand that remains firmly committed to the body style.