At least six General Motors passenger car models will be dropped by the end of next year, part of a broad corporate realignment that will see the automaker also shut down three North American assembly plants, idling an estimated 5,600 workers.
The Monday morning announcement reflects the ongoing shift from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs in the U.S. market, though GM CEO Mary Barra also noted that the automaker wants to put more emphasis on the development of electrified and autonomous vehicles going forward.
“We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success,” Barra said Monday.
GM is by no means the only automaker shifting away from cars to light trucks. Ford will get out of the sedan and coupe market all but entirely, with only the Mustang “pony car” to remain available in the U.S. market.
(Mary Barra continues radical reshaping of General Motors. Click Here for the story.)
And Fiat Chrysler has abandoned most of its sedans and coupes, limiting itself to the Dodge Challenger and Charger muscle cars, and a handful of niche vehicles sold through the Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands. Even Toyota is expected to pare back its offerings, based on recent comments by its North American CEO Jim Lentz.
Ironically, the products GM will pull from production are among “some of the best vehicles GM has ever built,” said Stephanie Brinley, a principal automotive analyst with IHS Markit. “They’re just not in alignment with what the market wants right now.”
Like many of its competitors, GM has found it particularly difficult to sustain profitable demand for both economy cars, as well as full-size sedans. “Buyers want a big Traverse” SUV, added Brinley, “rather than an Impala” sedan.
For now, the products set to drive off into the sunset include:
- Buick LaCrosse. This once popular midsize sedan has steadily lost ground as Buick has shifted focus with the addition of new crossovers such as the Envision, Enclave and Encore;
- Cadillac CT6. This was supposed to be the luxury brand’s flagship, but despite solid reviews for its performance, handling and features, it has failed to gain traction, especially against European alternatives;
- Cadillac XTS. The front-wheel-drive sedan never really fit into the Caddy line-up and largely found itself going into the low-profit fleet market;
- Chevrolet Cruze. After decades of offering ho-hum compact sedans, Cruze scored a hit with reviewers but struck out with buyers;
- Chevrolet Impala. This full-size sedan was once an aspirational step-up for buyers and in its latest incarnation was a Consumer Reports recommended buy. Shoppers haven’t listened;
- Chevrolet Volt. A game-changer when it debuted in 2010, Volt was the first mass-market plug-in hybrid, and the current, gen-2 model made major improvements, but to little avail.
While the extent of the plant closings announced by GM on Monday took many observers by surprise, the automaker actually signaled over a year ago that it was thinking about trimming its passenger car line-up, sources pointing to at least six endangered models.
(To see more about Ford’s vehicle plans to shift to SUVs, Click Here.)
Only one of those, the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic, survived the latest cuts – for now, but sources suggest still more GM sedans, coupes and hatchbacks could be dropped in the months ahead if they can’t pull their way in an SUV-crazed U.S. market.