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With production of the Chevy Malibu ending, long era ends for ol' Detroit sedans

Kalea Hall and Breana Noble, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

DETROIT — In another case of Detroit automakers surrendering car sales to foreign competition, General Motors Co. this fall will retire its last mainstream gas-powered sedan when production of the Chevrolet Malibu ends after nine generations.

The Detroit automaker confirmed Wednesday it will stop producing the mid-size sedan in November at its Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas to prep for assembly of the new Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle. Production of the Cadillac XT4 small SUV will continue until the plant is shut down next year to retool for production of the Bolt.

The decision to end the Malibu after more than 10 million units in global sales doesn't come as a surprise because domestic automakers started paring them from their lineups starting in the mid-2010s to focus on more profitable SUVs. Ford Motor Co.'s Fiesta, Focus and Taurus, Stellantis NV's Dodge Dart and Charger, as well as GM's Cruze and Impala, are among the cars killed by the Detroit Three — ceding the sedan market to foreign competitors that continue to show there's still a market for cars.

"Frankly, it's probably surprising that it's still in production now, and that's probably only because they sell a lot of them to rental fleets," said Sam Abuelsamid, e-mobility analyst for market research firm Guidehouse Inc. "It's not terribly shocking that it's going away. Other non-U.S. brands, non-Detroit brands are still sticking with sedans, they're still making them and still selling quite a lot of them."

GM previously said it would invest about $390 million in Fairfax to make the new Bolt, which will be based on GM's new, more flexible Ultium-based EV architecture. The previous generation Bolt, built at GM's Orion Assembly plant in Lake Orion, was not based on Ultium. Production of that Bolt ended in December 2023.

"To facilitate the installation of tooling and other plant modifications, after nine generations and over 10 million global sales, GM will end production of the Chevrolet Malibu in November 2024 and pause production of the Cadillac XT4 after January 2025," GM spokesperson Kevin Kelly said in a statement.


Kelly said the production pause "will result in a layoff until production resumes for affected employees. Affected employees will be supported according to the provisions of the UAW-GM agreement. When production resumes in late 2025, Fairfax will produce both the Bolt EV and XT4 on the same assembly line, which gives GM flexibility to respond to changes in customer demand."

"Ending Malibu production is a function of GM refocusing resources on better-selling, more relevant offerings while continuing capital-intensive future technologies — particularly electrification," said Paul Waatti, director of industry analysis for AutoPacific, a marketing research and consulting firm.

Goodbye, Malibu

Chevrolet introduced the Malibu in 1964 after it was first a trim offer on the Chevy Chevelle. The bowtie brand briefly discontinued the sedan from 1983 until 1997, according to Motor Trend.


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