G.M. to Retire the Chevy Malibu to Make More EVs

G.M. to Retire the Chevy Malibu to Make More EVs

By Oghale May8,2024

General Motors said on Wednesday that it would stop making the Chevrolet Malibu, the last affordable sedan in its U.S. model lineup and a venerable nameplate that was introduced in the 1960s when the company was a dominant force in the U.S. economy.

For years, American drivers have been gravitating toward sport-utility vehicles and away from sedans, compacts and hatchbacks. G.M.’s two Detroit rivals, Stellantis and Ford, have also largely wiped their slates clean of cars in the United States.

Foreign automakers such as Toyota, Honda and Hyundai still sell hundreds of thousands of sedans and compacts each year, but far fewer than in previous decades when the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord ranked among the most popular vehicles on American roads. Last month, Subaru, a Japanese automaker, said that it would stop making its Legacy sedan next year.

G.M. produces the Malibu at a plant in Fairfax, Kan., and will continue to manufacture the car until later this year, when it plans to retool the factory to make a new version of the Chevrolet Bolt, an electric car, and the Cadillac XT4, a luxury S.U.V.

Consumers have moved away from cars to roomier S.U.V.s and pickup trucks to haul children and recreational gear like bikes and kayaks. Automakers have helped grow that trend by offering more of those larger vehicles, which yield bigger profits than sedans and compacts.

The Malibu was first introduced in 1964 as an upscale family sedan. Four years later, G.M. added a sporty, muscle-car version — the Malibu SS. G.M. stopped making the Malibu in 1983 as the company was forced to downsize by growing foreign competition. It reintroduced the Malibu in 1997, but the model has almost always trailed the Camry and Accord in sales.

Since its introduction, G.M. has sold more than 10 million Malibus. But sales have slumped in recent years. In 2023, G.M. sold 130,000 Malibus, and deliveries fell 47 percent in the final three months of the year. A decade earlier, G.M. typically sold about 200,000 Malibus a year.

In 2023, G.M. announced that it would stop production of the Chevrolet Camaro, a sports car. It continues to make the Chevrolet Corvette. Its Cadillac brand makes two gasoline-powered sedans and has plans to start selling a high-end electric car this year. All other models that G.M. makes for the U.S. market are now trucks or S.U.V.s.

Several years ago, Ford eliminated sedans from its lineup. The Mustang is the only car that Ford makes for the U.S. market. Stellantis, the owner of Chrysler, now focuses mainly on trucks, S.U.V.s and minivans, though the company has said that it would start making an electric version of its Dodge Challenger muscle car in 2025.

The Malibu could, of course, return some day, perhaps as an electric vehicle. Automakers have often resurrected and repurposed old model names, especially those that buyers remember fondly.

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By Oghale

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