By on April 24, 2015

Chevrolet Sonic sales chart

GM’s share of America’s subcompact segment fell below 10% in the first-quarter of 2015 as Chevrolet Sonic volume tumbled 53%, year-over-year.

As a whole, the subcompact category is in decline in early 2015, but a large part of the category’s 9% drop can be attributed to the Sonic. Sales of the Sonic decreased by nearly 13,000 units over the last three months.

The Sonic ranked as the second-best-selling subcompact in the United States through the first three months of 2014, a position it held at this stage of 2013 and in each of the last three calendar years.

But through the first three months of 2015, the Sonic is America’s fifth-best-selling subcompact, 25,683 sales back of the top-selling Nissan Versa, a vehicle it trailed by fewer than 11,000 units at this stage in 2014.

In 2014’s first-quarter, the Sonic’s market share climbed to 19% thanks to a 4124-unit improvement year-over-year. A market share drop of nearly ten percentage points just one year later is a shock to GM’s small car system.

2015 Chevrolet Sonic lineup

Chevrolet Spark sales are down 5% this year. Chevrolet Cruze volume is off by 7%. Overall Chevrolet car sales are down 17%. Likewise, General Motors car volume in the U.S. is down 17%, a 45,487-unit deficit (year-over-year) that’s been erased by a 21% surge in light trucks, including a 48,046-unit increase among pickup trucks.

GM has known for quite some time that demand for the Sonic was way below previous expectations. Automotive News reported three months ago that Sonic production at the Orion plant in Michigan would be suspended to clear out a Sonic glut.

But it’s taking a while. At the beginning of this month, GM had a 160-day supply of Sonics. That’s well down from the 258-day supply one month earlier, but still well in excess of the 59-day average across the industry.

Meanwhile, the Sonic isn’t the only subcompact suffering from a downturn. The aging Ford Fiesta is down 22% this year. Kia Rio volume has plunged 37%. The Mazda 2, in a replacement phase, is down 94%. But none of those holes are as large as the one left by the dramatically less popular Sonic, without which the subcompact category would be up 1% in early 2015.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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125 Comments on “Chevrolet Sonic’s U.S. Subcompact Market Share Is Plunging – Started Near The Top Now It’s Here...”


  • avatar
    philadlj

    1.) The cheaper Spark was bound to cannibalize some Sonic sales. Even if it’s down too, it’s not as down as Sonic.
    2.) The Sonic is an aging design from back when they thought putting the same face from the Uplander (nee Venture) on a subcompact car was a good idea. I’ve always found the Sonic repellant. The fact it was more aggressive than the Aveo it replaced was not all that impressive, as the Aveo was the wet paper bag of cars.
    3.) Gas prices are still pretty low, so let’s all buy Suburbans!

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I really doubt potential Sonic buyers went to suburbans, but I’m sure you would agree on that. GM bet the whole farm on high gas prices, even their biggest trucks have lost capability and reliability(see 6.2l/8 speed trans problems) in the name of MPG. Ford will give you some sporty pretensions with their compacts and a fairy impressive Halo car, Nissan will give you a ton of room, high reliability and an unbeatable price. Toyota will give you a badge and a reputation. What does Chevy offer for the consumers that aren’t buying a sub-compact strictly for MPG.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I agree, GM, while wholly-owned by the US government and the taxpayers, was told to bet the whole farm on high gas prices.

        The current administration with their environmentalist green-weenie uber-left liberal views also bet their entire agenda on high oil prices.

        Fortunately for those of us who trust and understand America’s ingenuity, America’s innovators, capitalists and private land holders, found a way to drive oil prices down.

        This doesn’t mean America’s gas prices will always remain low from now on, but it does provide an opportunity for many to step away from the cramped little econoboxes, sardine cans, roller skates on wheels, and squirrel engines that they were forced to endure because of America’s bad economic energy policies of this administration.

        • 0 avatar
          Cestode

          “green-weenie uber left”

          Come on.

        • 0 avatar
          PonchoIndian

          The US drove high oil prices down? It had nothing to do with overproduction elsewhere… ugg

        • 0 avatar
          statikboy

          The switch has been thrown… We’ve gone over to The Opinions/Lies About Politics (TO/LAP)

        • 0 avatar
          Loki

          “Fortunately for those of us who trust and understand America’s ingenuity, America’s innovators, capitalists and private land holders, found a way to drive oil prices down.”

          Are you kidding me? Oil prices are down because of the Saudis. I hope you’re trolling and not actually this woefully misinformed.

          • 0 avatar
            Bunter1

            The impression I have from reading on it is that the Saudi’s have acted in response to the US production boom.
            The plan being to lower barrel prices to the point where fracking is not profitable.

            If correct then Highdesertcat’s comments stand.

            This applies to Ponchoindians thoughts also.

            TTFN

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Loki, oil prices are down because in America we are swimming in oil, mostly because of fracking. In my area, the oil cos have raw oil stored in rail cars parked in the desert.

            If the Saudis could afford to cut back on production, they would have.

            Don’t worry, oil prices will go up again; my guess at this point is in 2016 and then all you oil-haters can point your squirrelly fingers at the rest of us and whine, “I told you so!, I told you so!”

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Bunter..
            You’ve read correctly.

            The only problem with HDC’s argument is that it doesn’t make sense that the Domestic oil producers would want to glut the supply and allow the Saudi’s to do the same, thus lowering the price and putting the domestic producers back into unemployment.

            Had the Saudi’s not overproduced to drive the price down the price of gas would have remained the same with North America producing at their higher costs. The oil tankers are sitting around waiting for the price to go back up so that the companies who produced them in NA can actually make some money on their efforts instead of losing their shirts because of their much higher overhead.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I think the oil overproduction is directly tied to Russia’s recent political situation. As with the Soviet Union in the 80s, hitting them in the pocketbook (ie crude oil sales) hurts the most, more so than sanctions one could argue. So I guess the conspiracy theory in my mind is that the US leveraged the Saudis to overproduce and put Russia in the hole. Of course domestic US producers would suffer big time in the process. So maybe I should take my tinfoil hat off, the more straightforward theory is Saudis are overproducing to put the hurt on US oil production, depress prices (per barrel) to where it is no longer profitable to extract the oil with fracking methods here.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            gtemnykh, I heard somewhere that in America we went from ~1400 fracking wells down to ~600, and everyone is still making money.

            I think it was on Bloomberg where I heard that conversation and the gentleman speaking said, “The profits are still there, but they’re not as high as they used to be.”

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Gtem…
            Yes. You said it much better than I did.

            Basically the Saudis are putting the hurt on US production by lowering the price way below the profitability threshold to produce it here.

          • 0 avatar
            1998redwagon

            in the past when oil prices dropped those companies and countries that cut back production in an effort to meet demand found that later, when prices rebounded, they had lost market share. i do not know if the saudis increased production during the recent downturn in prices but i’ll bet they did not decrease production.

            those that are extracting oil through more expensive processes (fracking) and especially those that are extracting tar sands oil and not the easy to process light crudes are finding it really hurts to sell oil on the market when prices are this low.

        • 0 avatar
          baconpope

          So, America’s innovator’s, capitalists and private land holders assassinated Saudi Arabia’s king? Pure genius.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        “What does Chevy offer for the consumers that aren’t buying a sub-compact strictly for MPG.”

        The Sonic’s trump card over the rest of the subcompact class is road hugging weight that give it a superior ride and excellent road/wind noise insulation. At 2800lb, the Sonic weighs more than some compact cars. In the same way that the Cruze at 3100lb weighs as much as competitors’ midsize offerings and is much more solid and quiet than say a Civic.

        The problem is that the Sonic has a tight rear seat, and prices overlap all too much with compacts. The Versa is king because someone can drive out of the Nissan dealership with a car that they can fit their family and baby seats into, with A/C and automatic, for about $13k in real world prices. Looking at a Sonic and wooed by its bigger-car ride, why wouldn’t someone just buy a basic Corolla or Cruze LS for the same price or a hair more, and get even more car?

        • 0 avatar
          Bunter1

          Not bad, I would add that real world, not EPA, mpg has also been sub par.

        • 0 avatar
          mx5ta

          I never need a salesman to upsell me, since, no matter what I’m buying, I upsell myself. My next daily driver will be a subcompact or compact, probably the latter, since as gtemnykh says, the price is just a little higher, and the MPGs are about the same. Currently, Fit/Civic and Fiesta/Focus are tops on my list, with Civic SI or one of the STs a possibility. The Sonic does nothing for me, not sure why, but I would go for a Cruze. I looked at the Spark and Sonic a year or more ago and noticed they’re the same car, except for a foot or two of length removed from the Spark.

        • 0 avatar
          kojoteblau

          That’s my thought. The Sonic was a solid, powerful (with the turbo) ride that felt head and shoulders above the other sub compacts to me. The dealer was trying move me in to the larger Cruze for a similar price, too.
          Ultimately, the Sonic lost out on price, nice car but not nice enough to beat the offer I got on my little Italian car.

    • 0 avatar
      John Franklin Mason

      Fortunately Chevrolet does not have to market Suburban’s to the subprime market in order to sustain and maintain sale volume levels.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Subprime buyers can’t afford a new Suburban anyway. Better get them into the Traverse LS or they’ll be headed over to the Dodge dealership for a Caravan.

        • 0 avatar
          John Franklin Mason

          bball40dtw subprime are high risk buyers and subprime does not have to mean a person does not have enough income to make the payments.

          Cadillac reaches out to market it’s cars to subprime buyers also in order to increase sales. Cadillac Dares to be the subprime buyers only choice in the premium luxury car market.

          You never know what to expect next with the General Motors Jinx.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Right, but the average subprime buyer isn’t getting into a Suburban that has an ATP of “medium sized Midwest house”.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        @ John Franklin Mason…

        Fortunately Chevrolet does not have to market Suburban’s to the subprime market in order to sustain and maintain sale volume levels.

        No, GM most certainly does not. @$65k transaction prices with 10k down you have a payment of $1046 for six years at 11%. If you are real sub prime and pay users rates you are at $1350.

        What has GM said or done to give that impression on the new Suburban? I get you may not like them, as in Suburban etal, but for those that need them, their is nothing better.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          The Sequoia is better.

          • 0 avatar
            tuffjuff

            The Sequoia hasn’t been competitive in how many years?

            Seriously, I forget. It’s been a while.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            tuffjuff, competitive: it depends what the owner/buyer is looking for.

            I’ve owned Suburbans over the years, albeit bought used.

            Using that as my baseline, the Sequoia is better, 5.7L all-aluminum 32-valve DOHC V8 and all.

          • 0 avatar
            baconpope

            Amen. Especially if you hate gas. The Sequoia DESTROYS gas!

          • 0 avatar
            87 Morgan

            Two friends have them so I have spent some time in them.

            Some may think so, better than the Tahoe, perhaps. Not the suburban though for our needs. Plus those toy motors are way more thirsty than Toyota indicates on the window sticker…

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            The Sequoia has never even been a blip on the radar. The Tundra is barely a competitor.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Ah, but for discerning buyers, they are there. It’s an option to get away from run-of-the-mill and choose different, choose better!

      • 0 avatar
        CaliCarGuy

        Subprime buyers are getting into Suburbans in some areas.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      While I doubt anybody’s cross-shopping a Sonic with a Suburban, philadlj’s comment outlines the idiotic general public’s mentality.

    • 0 avatar
      Phil A. Ofish

      You nailed it. Americans are back to thinking gas will be cheap forever. Plus, Sonic is getting a little older.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Really this line of thought is old, you really believe people forgot about fuel costs suddenly? Everyone spewing this crap needs to pull out a calculator and calculate the difference between 25 and 35 MPG for a year, unless your working for the government or similar scale job, the difference is insignificant. The majority of us don’t want to be in a tiny coffin, and the market shows just that. Trucks don’t get 12 MPG anymore, and CUVs can be in the high 20s. Unless you are absolutely struggling to get by in life, there is no reason anyone “needs” to be in the compact and below segments.

        $1.50 in 1999 is worth $2.11 today

        • 0 avatar
          gearhead77

          So if the price of gas is inconsequential, can we stop complaining about putting premium in cars that recommend( or require) it? Can we stop complaining about how diesel is more than gas even though it shouldn’t be? This is an enthusiast site, running costs are figured into our passion right? All trucks get better than 12mpg? Maybe rated mileage, real world is suggesting it’s not 100% true( your mileage my vary)

          I can’t justify the price of a truck, the lack of manuveriibility compared to a car or the fact it won’t fit in my garage. I have no point to drive a vehicle that large that hauls nothing but air 95% of the time .

          Your choice in vehicle is your own, but the reason no one wants a small car is because of the old stigmas attached to it. The whole bigger is better mindset in America won’t go away anytime soon.

  • avatar
    John Franklin Mason

    General Motors is Jinxed.

  • avatar
    Gregg

    Not surprising as gas is so low and those who still want a little Chevy have the Spark as another choice. The Sonic sedan is not as dopey looking as the Versa sedan and Fiesta sedan, but both the Versa and Fiesta hatchbacks look better. Wait until gas really increases and a new design is on the table.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I’ve driven a few Sonics as rentals. One had 42k, the other fairly new. Not bad mostly and certainly better than the Aveo. I’d like a turbo car in LTZ or RS hatchback form, if it wasn’t for the interior. It just looks cheap compared to others in class. And the price without incentives is a bit steep in RS or LTZ form.

    The 42k car had some defects caused by rental use, but was certainly in better shape than many of the rental Geos I drove for Enterprise in the late 90’s when I worked there.

    I think the Sonic hatch looks better than the Fiesta, but the RS is nearly Fiesta ST money for nowhere near the performance.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      You nailed it. I wouldn’t mind a manual transmission RS or LTZ but the biggest argument against one is the Fiesta ST.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      Agree with gearhead. Sonic’s cheap-o interior, compared to competitors, sinks the car. While not in the same size class as the Sonic, the new Corolla must have affected other small cars sales. What are the Corolla’s numbers?

      • 0 avatar
        1998redwagon

        secret hi5 your thoughts are similar to mine once i read the article. this model is down this model is down …. are there any subcompacts that are up in volume during the same period? if not, then given the overall increase in market volume where did these potential buyers go? cuvs? trucks? or sitting on the sidelines?

        i think mr cain did himself (and us) a disservice by not covering the other portion of the story – what improved and potentially why.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        The Corolla has consistently sold over a quarter million models a year (75,000/quarter) every year for over a decade, with one exception – in 2011, they *only* sold 240,000.

        In 2014, Toyota moved almost 340,000 Corollas, or nearly 85,000/quarter.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      You completely nailed it and same observation.

      Find a 3 year old hatch with a manual in LTZ or RS form and it would be a bargain.

      Sticker price is steep as you load it up, and the interior does not match the chassis dynamics and overall build quality, which are both quite good – surprisingly so.

      My expectation bar for GM and B-segment was very low before I sat in my first rental Sonic. It is light years better than the Aveo – but it is overdue for a refresh.

    • 0 avatar
      CaliCarGuy

      I have a Sonic and I agree the interior is cheap, but what can you expect from the price point? Its livable. And your right on the RS being ST money. I was considering trading my LT in for an RS later this year but thought twice about it because I would be shelling out more for 10 more lb/ft of torque, some sport seats, and bigger wheels. No gain in performance.

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      @gearhead

      Uhh… Aveo? Geo? These are two of the most outrageous POS’s in recent automotive history.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Mayb because its kind of a bad car. The dash could use a redesign and the seats need to be larger. How is fiat 500 doing?

  • avatar
    Speed3

    Subcompacts are down with lower gas prices and the new Honda Fit (although there is probably much less cross shopping than with the Versa) is doing well.

    With the new Spark and Cruze around the corner the case for the Sonic is going to be much less compelling.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Where can we see “day supply” figures for cars? I have always been fascinated by that data point. It’s one number that says so much about how a company is run and what the actual live demand for a car is.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    What are the total figures for all of the major players in the segment and what is GM’s percentage? (Soul, Versa, Yaris, 2, Fiesta, Sonic/Spark) GM’s figures might be down but perhaps the segment is down as a whole because of [not so] “cheap” gas and IMO general preference to vehicles larger than this by Americans as a whole.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I hear the reasons why people buy a Sonic/Spark over and Cruze or a Fiesta over a Focus, but I still can’t wrap my brain around them (besides teh Fiesta ST). The Focus and Cruze lease out cheaper than their smaller siblings. Also, the volume trim Focus and Cruze can be purchased for around $15K-$16K. The Focus is a deal right now. Ford is laying people off in Wayne, but can’t make enough CUVs, SUVs, and especially trucks.

      You have to REALLY want a subcompact in order to buy one in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        That’s kind of my point, you have to want this and its a crowded segment and I wonder how much people want the segment. If the segment as a whole is down, Sonic’s plunge is less relevant especially if Sonic/Spark retained similar share.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I saw a Ford Ka and a Ford EcoSport at lunch yesterday. I can’t imagine anyone here wanting those either.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Somebody probably does but its too small a demand to justify the production/certification and inventory costs as Jack recently explained.

            If I were GM, I’d be looking to slim down to one small hatch from two and I’d even go so far to offer it as loaded/electric or stripper/gas and that’s it. I suspect the whole segment for this is shrinking and will until fuel costs get stupid again.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The Ka I saw looks like a white hi-top shoe with a Fusion face. It was unfortunate at best.

          • 0 avatar

            Hey Bball, the Ka you saw as a hatch or a sedan? I hear you, it does look sort of weird in a way as it is tall and the wheels are a bit small (this is about the only car you’ll hear me saying this btw). But the look does grow on you. All small cars are looking like that now, more internal space you know!

            As to the EcoSport it does look small, though it is about as big as the Chevrolet Traxx and Honda HR-V. The Duster is bigger than all and looks more “jipe-like” while the Renegade is also a bit larger. I have never warmed up to the looks either, btw.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            It was a hatch. All white with black wheels. It didn’t have any camo on it.

            The EcoSport looked like it was a more reasonable size. I still think the Trax/EcoSport/etc are too small. If Ford brings a small CUV/SUV here, it needs to be the Troller T4.

          • 0 avatar

            Worst possible combination! The Ka, especially the hatch, looks better in dark colors. And the back area looks a bit undercooked comparing to the front. My wife did point it out in traffic the other day saying she liked it. As she rarely does that, it must be working!

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          The segment is down 9% for the year while the Sonic is down 53.4%. The segment lost 11,492 sales while the Sonic lost 12,918. The other dogs in the segment are losing too, but sales growth for the Fit cancels out the decline of the Fiesta and Rio. The Sonic’s fall from grace is probably a reflection that there are now enough unhappy owners to spread the word that this GM turnaround is as fictitious as the last dozen were.

    • 0 avatar

      Would be an interesting data point. I think a moment like now is key for GM U.S. It must be rather tempting to forget the cars and concentrate on pickups, CUVs and SUVs. However, it would seem the market is there and due to any blip it could swell again quite fast. It’s best to be prepared. And maybe, just maybe, the fact these cars are sold all over the world where demand for this kind is much bigger, will afford U.S. makes the opportunity to keep up to date in this important segment.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Marcelo I would say that’s exactly what GM is doing, at least in North America. I think GM is already prepared with Cruze/Verano for a gas shock as these models are already fuel efficient. If Cruze were offered in a 5 door hatch I’d say there would be no need for Sonic at all in the US, neither car is very large and GM finally has a credible entry in the C-segment with Cruze. Now if one is thinking export from the US with B-segment models it makes more sense to sell them here as well, but the fact is general American preference is to drive the largest vehicle they can afford at the time.

        • 0 avatar

          Sure, I agree 28. The Sonic does seem to be a bit pinched in the US line up (like it was in Brazil where it got dropped after a few years), but maybe they did it because they wanted a sedan and the Spark (AFAIK) is not available as such.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            That’s probably the case. I’ve said for years GM should be allowed to concentrate on what they are good at, and only recently they have been able to finally crack the C-segment with a real model. Forcing them into the B-segment (in the US) isn’t wise (cough cough gov’t) and the sales numbers CJ posted reflect it. Should GM be in this segment globally? Yes, but as you noted they sold the same product in your nation and evidently dropped it, I would assume because it was not a success.

          • 0 avatar

            It was not a hit. Too expensive and many felt it was too heavy (though some like that sensation), and GM Brazil has many cars (sedans, hatches, minivans) encroaching on the price (and just as big – Onyx hatch and its sedan called Prisma) or bigger and costing about the same or a bit less like Cobalt and Spin. All based on the same platform. They imported the Sonic from Korea and tried to position it as a Fiesta fighter, but the market clearly preferred the Fiesta.

            Anyway, these are all the same car underneath, with the good and bad that entails (more goods than bad IMO).

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Which of the other GM models is/was the most preferred by Brazilians in the segment?

          • 0 avatar

            The Onyx. It has been sitting on the podium for a while, in the top 3, the first for GM in a couple of years. In fact, it has started to beat the Fiat Palio. The VW Gol, Fiat Uno and Hyundai HB20 it regularlay beats now.

            The Onyx sedan, called Prisma does well, too, and is this year the best selling sedan in Brazil period.

            The Spin owns the minivan (and station wagon)selling almost as much as all other competitors taken together.

            The new GM Brazil line based on GM Korea products (with large Brazilian input it would seem) is doing just fine.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            This is much more attractive than Spark and Sonic, IMO. Foolish RenCen should have just brought this to the US as its smallest car model.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Onix

            http://gmauthority.com/blog/2012/10/chevrolet-onix-subcompact-hatchback-officially-revealed-in-brazil/

          • 0 avatar

            Ha! Then you like Brazilian car design! GM has set up a design studio in Brazil, supposedly the most modern in the GM constellation. And more advanced than all others here, too.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’ll take this Brazilian styling over what comes out of Daewoo.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      2nd paragraph, click the link.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I’ve priced out a nicely-equipped Sonic LT with the 1.4L turbo engine. It’s well over $19k. That puts it deep into the territory of much nicer cars. Usually, when GM has a glut of a certain model, they throw cash on the hood. There’s only $500 on Sonics.

    After decades of avoiding American-made cars, I’d really like to buy a Sonic. But the numbers aren’t right.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I think when they do “cash on the hood” its out of the large margin on their cars. I wonder if Sonic is simply a low margin vehicle (if I had to guess it probably is).

    • 0 avatar
      mcarr

      I’ve owned 2 Sonic LT’s, a 2011 manual, and now a 2014 auto, both with the 1.4T engine. I bought the 2014 because there was $4500 on the hood. The sticker said $19,000. That and my trade made for a cheap new car buy.

      The manual got way better mileage. Easily over 40 mpg highway without trying hard. Best I got was 44 mpg. The auto gets around 38 in the same conditions.

      I test drove all the competitors, Fiesta, Versa, Mazda 2, Fit. The Versa was just awful in comparison, the Fiesta felt underpowered and the auto didn’t really feel right. The Mazda 2 was a fun little go kart, but the Sonic is more “grown up”. The Fit is just too buzzy on the freeway, but a great around town car.

      Then Sonic just seemed to do everything well, and was solid, quiet and stable on the road. I’m surprised that sales are down so much, but it is probably about time for a redesign. The interior could use an update.

    • 0 avatar
      Mullholland

      I was in the market for a small car last month.
      Eggsalad’s comment is getting at what happened to Sonic and in the larger picture of what happened to cause the subcompact segment sales drop. In short: A big advertising push and lots of cash on the hoods of some very popular compact cars, for example; Hyundai Elantra, specifically. Consumers decided to go with a nicer, slightly more spacious car for about the same price a the subcompact they were looking at.
      Other less subjective support for this explanation: Elantra broke into the list of top 10 selling nameplates in March of 2015.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Look for lightly used 2 to 3 years old. If you’re willing to row your own and can find an LTZ or RS manual, you can get some crazy deals. I’ve seen more than 50% depreciation on Craig’s List – dealer (not hooptie lots) after 36 months – mileage is above average on those units but not off the charts.

    • 0 avatar
      CaliCarGuy

      Yea look for used. You can find crazy deals on them. I got my 13 Sonic for 9800 with 54k on it. And its an LT. Maybe 54 is alot to you but its alright to me for 9800.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        This is true, but seek one with lower miles if you’re in the market. Nobody wants these things and the block reflects it.

        MY13 Chevy Sonic LT Sedan

        04/15/15 MILWAUKE Lease $11,800 107 Above SILVER 4G A No
        04/23/15 TAMPA Lease $10,700 12,725 Above BLUE 4G A Yes
        04/15/15 SAN ANTO Lease $9,100 17,268 Avg SILVER 4G A Yes
        04/07/15 PORTLAND Lease $7,100 17,845 Below BLUE 4G A No
        04/23/15 MISS Lease $9,500 17,933 Avg BLACK 4G A Yes
        04/16/15 TX HOBBY Lease $9,000 21,343 Avg MRN 4G A Yes
        04/23/15 MISS Lease $9,500 21,679 Avg BROWN 4G A Yes
        04/17/15 PA Lease $10,500 22,119 Above BLACK 4G A Yes
        04/15/15 SAN ANTO Regular $9,100 23,002 Avg RED 4G A Yes
        04/22/15 DALLAS Regular $10,300 24,104 Above BLUE 4G A Yes

        MY13 Chevy Sonic LT Hatch

        04/09/15 TAMPA Lease $10,200 11,456 Above RED 4GT A Yes
        04/13/15 NC Lease $10,200 13,727 Above GRAY 4GT A Yes
        04/07/15 PORTLAND Lease $11,700 15,332 Above GRAY 4GT A No
        04/23/15 DETROIT Lease $9,900 15,354 Above RED 4G 5 Yes
        04/09/15 TAMPA Regular $10,800 21,463 Above RED 4GT A Yes
        04/23/15 MISS Lease $9,600 22,067 Above GRAY 4G A Yes
        04/03/15 NEVADA Regular $10,500 23,522 Above RED 4GT A Yes
        04/14/15 BALTWASH Lease $9,000 27,356 Avg SILVER 4G A Yes
        04/23/15 OMAHA Regular $9,450 30,993 Avg RED 4G A Yes
        04/02/15 PHOENIX Lease $9,700 32,649 Above SILVER 4G A Yes

        For S&G: MY14 Mitsu Mirage DE Sedan

        xtra clean

        04/08/15 DALLAS Lease $8,200 5,625 Avg BLUE 3G A Yes
        04/23/15 CARIB Lease $11,000 6,097 Above WINE 3G A Yes
        04/02/15 CARIB Lease $9,300 6,955 Avg WINE 3G 5 Yes
        04/08/15 DALLAS Regular $9,000 7,617 Avg BLUE 3G 5 Yes
        04/22/15 SAN ANTO Lease $9,100 8,200 Avg RED 3G A Yes
        04/09/15 CARIB Lease $8,800 8,250 Avg PURPLE 3G A Yes

        rough

        04/23/15 CARIB Lease $7,200 18,718 Below GRAY 3G A Yes
        04/20/15 NC Regular $4,500 10,274 Below RED 3G A No
        03/26/15 TAMPA Lease $7,500 15,944 Below RED 3G 5 Yes
        03/25/15 SAN ANTO Lease $7,000 23,572 Below RED 3G A Yes

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Just wait until pickup truck and SUV sales slow down; GM will be in a major world of hurt.

          I’d not be the least bit surprised if GM is unprofitable or losing money again should their pickup truck & SUV sales decline by a mere 10% to 15% (which they inevitably will), relative to their sedan, coupe and hatchback sales.

          GM got a quick rinse bankruptcy, courtesy of taxpayers, allowing it to shed many, many billions of dollars in legacy costs (pensions, healthcare, benefits, etc.) and shareholder and bondholder equity, as well as shaft suppliers for parts already delivered, as well as lower its labor cost to below competitors’ costs, and it’s right back to the same business model that led to its bankruptcy in the first place.

          And vehicle quality? It’s better than the horrid 80s, 90s, and 2000s, but that’s damning with the faintest of praise, and it’s still nowhere near the leader board (it’s not even midpack).

          GM is a casebook example of a failed corporate entity, full basket case, with a failed executive/management structure, failed model for supplier relations and failed product mix and production.

          Just let GM take a dirt nap, because otherwise, they’re going to be back at the bailout window, again and again.

          There are some corporations that simply are incapable of necessary change. GM is definitely a classic case of the type of corporation.

          • 0 avatar

            Doubt it DW. I know different markets, blah, blah, blah, but GM Brazil is a massive hit. Though I was doubtful at first (and penned an article way back then explaining why), the current line is a massive hit, and they have been the most sold brand to Brazilian private consumers two years straight and this year they are encroaching on Fiat and could take first in the overall market. Back in the “good old days” when the maligned Wagoner (sp??) was President of GM Brazil, he was famously quoted as saying that 5% of GM sales were generated in Brazil, but that 20% of its profits were generated here. Opel/Vauxhall is still the second or third largest Euro brand, their presence in China continues. If trucks and such decline in the US many of GM truck buyers would just buy GM cars (not all).

            Plus the bailout pulling of hair is old. If GM goes bankrupt again in 5 years and the US is in a good economic position (not the life-threatening one it was back in the GWBush days), the US will allow it to sink.

            GM is in a better position today than it has been in a long while.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            If you take DW’s weird emotions out of it you’ll know this probably won’t happen.

            If GM (or anyone else) goes BK again and the economy is in good shape they will do what Chrysler and Ford did to stay alive when they were BK…They’ll get loans and or leverage everything to the hilt. This wasn’t possible in 09 because loans and asset sales were non-existent for EVERYONE. The only reason for managed to dodge the BK drum was because they were in trouble before the other two and sold everything and or got the loans they needed before the bottom fell out in the US.

          • 0 avatar
            jimbob457

            @DeadWeight

            I am afraid you are going to be proven right. In the end, it seems, corporate culture trumps all else.

            See you guys later. Heading down to Sears and J.C. Penney to do some shopping.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Corporate culture eats process for lunch. DW is mostly right as the company seems to be managed by the quarter or at best by the year. Volt was their attempt to think far ahead but it came to market too late and it and most other EVs or PHEVs have floundered. Tesla survives through its stock from what I understand, and with the cars it does sell it created a market for: uber expensive EV toys. Unless GM can turn its Volt technology into the American Prius, I say they got nothing cookin’ long term.

            Additional: Ford and FCA also depend heavily on their truck/SUV profits and FCA especially is sensitive to changes in North America and had nearly no hybrid/EV exposure. In the event of another oil crisis, all three are going to be in bad shape. Ford might be in the best position of the three although most of their profits do derive from F-series. However I feel Ford would lean heavily on the fuel saving measure of F-150 and would be in a good position to withstand the switch back to more fuel efficient cars as well.

        • 0 avatar
          PonchoIndian

          28
          How do these numbers compare to the Fiesta, Mazda 2 and Yaris?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’d have to have wither msrps or transaction prices to calculate a curve, but as you can see these aren’t retaining value the way they would have maybe in 2012/13. I’ve never understood this segment, you pay nearly as much as a C-segment and get similar fuel economy (with the exception of Mirage). These still feel like penalty boxes to me. Now if they all sold new for 10-12K while the C-segment pushed 18-20K, I’d understand more. But I thought the ATPs were more like 15+ thanks in part to Uncle Ben’s inflation over the past eight years.

            MY13 Mazda Mazda2 Sport Hatch – xtra clean

            04/01/15 SAN ANTO Lease $10,500 5,942 Above GRAY 4G A Yes
            04/22/15 MILWAUKE Lease $8,000 17,052 Avg BLUE 4G A Yes
            04/23/15 ATLANTA Lease $5,600 22,299 Below GREY 4G A No
            03/26/15 MISS Regular $8,800 23,884 Avg BLACK 4G A Yes
            03/26/15 TX HOBBY Lease $8,700 24,985 Avg GRAY 4G A Yes
            03/31/15 ATLANTA Regular $8,000 25,780 Avg GREY 4G A Yes
            04/09/15 SO CAL Lease $9,700 25,920 Above BLACK 4G 5 Yes

            rough

            04/23/15 ATLANTA Lease $5,600 22,299 Below GREY 4G A No
            04/22/15 NASHVILL Lease $7,700 53,499 Below SILVER 4G A Yes
            04/22/15 MILWAUKE Lease $7,200 64,242 Below GREY 4G A Yes

            MY13 Toyota Yaris LE Sedan – clean

            03/31/15 ORLANDO Regular $10,900 20,780 Above SILVER 4G A Yes
            04/03/15 NJ Lease $9,900 20,810 Avg BLACK 4G A Yes
            04/09/15 PA Regular $11,500 24,809 Above RED 4G Yes
            04/24/15 PA Lease $9,800 25,866 Avg SILVER 4G A Yes
            04/06/15 NJ Regular $9,275 26,664 Avg BLACK 4G A Yes
            04/24/15 PA Lease $9,600 27,170 Avg GREY 4G A Yes

            rough

            04/23/15 TX HOBBY Lease $8,400 68,879 Below RED 4G A Yes
            04/08/15 SAN ANTO Lease $7,500 28,375 Below BLUE 4G A No
            04/08/15 DARLNTON Lease $8,001 63,219 Below BLUE 4G A Yes
            04/03/15 PA Lease $8,200 55,470 Below GREY 4G O Yes
            03/30/15 NC Lease $7,900 54,837 Below BLUE 4G A Yes
            03/27/15 PA Lease $8,200 53,548 Below BLUE 4G A Yes
            03/26/15 PHOENIX Lease $4,700 41,915 Below WHITE 4G A No

            MY13 Ford Fiesta SE Sedan – xtra clean + one damaged

            04/23/15 DFW Lease $10,700 3,037 Above UH-BLACK 4G A Yes
            04/15/15 HAWAII Lease $11,000 4,287 Above GRAY 4G A Yes
            04/14/15 KC Factory $10,000 7,880 Avg BLUE 4G A Yes
            04/16/15 DETROIT Lease $10,700 8,690 Above BLUE 4G A Yes
            04/15/15 SO CAL Lease $10,700 9,238 Above BLACK 4G A Yes
            04/15/15 MINNEAP Lease $9,100 11,251 Avg RACE RED 4G A Yes
            04/15/15 SAN ANTO Lease $10,600 12,061 Above GREEN 4G A Yes
            04/09/15 SO CAL Lease $8,200 12,310 Below SILVER 4G A No
            04/22/15 DENVER Lease $10,800 12,853 Above PURPLE 4G A Yes
            04/23/15 SO CAL Lease $10,300 13,001 Avg GREEN 4G A Yes

            hatch SE

            04/15/15 SAN ANTO Regular $11,200 8,570 Above GREEN 4G A Yes
            04/09/15 PA Lease $10,500 9,621 Above MDGREY 4G A Yes
            03/27/15 NEVADA Lease $11,000 9,747 Above MDGREY 4G A Yes
            04/16/15 PITTSBGH Lease $10,500 11,063 Above RED 4G A Yes
            04/24/15 FT LAUD Lease $10,700 11,160 Above RED 4G A Yes
            04/08/15 NJ Regular $9,000 11,445 Avg BLK 4G A Yes
            04/22/15 NJ Lease $9,000 12,728 Avg RED 4G A Yes

            rough (sedan SE)

            04/15/15 SEATTLE Lease $6,400 52,122 Below GREY 4G A No
            04/15/15 SAN ANTO Lease $8,000 48,270 Below BLUE 4G A Yes
            04/15/15 CEN FLA Regular $8,700 32,827 Below WHITE 4G A Yes
            04/14/15 OHIO Lease $8,000 25,387 Below MDGREY 4G A Yes
            04/10/15 PA Regular $8,500 40,531 Below BLACK 4G A Yes
            04/09/15 SO CAL Lease $8,600 21,078 Below BLACK 4G A Yes

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Looks like the retained value problem is less a Sonic specific and more a segment issue. My uneducated guess is gas prices and low % finance rates for these rigs.

            You have to wonder how the Turd, I mean Yaris manages to attract so many sheep when there are clearly more satisfying options.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I think what happened is the segment was only popular due to 1. higher fuel prices and 2. higher costs/barriers to entry for larger vehicles. Now you have the opposite with lower fuel costs and subprime madness which slams these used. Who wants used at 12,9 or 13,9 if you can have brand new at 15,9 or bigger for 18,9 and near 0% financing to FICO 650+?

            I can’t understand the appeal of Yaris, only if Corolla wasn’t available due to costs and if you must have a hatch doesn’t Scion still make those? Amazing to me Toyota can sell the same thing several times at once and succeed.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Yaris is among the worst vehicles I’ve ever driven; I postulate it’s a showroom/dealership bottom barrel, last chance vehicle that sells to people that are BHPH types but must have a Toyota product at all (literally) costs, an it’s the only new Toyota the saleswoman can make the numbers work on.

  • avatar
    theonewhogotaway

    That’s a simple one: It is priced at the same ballpark as the other Koreans (and Fiesta and Mazda2) who offer more for the same price, plus the Mirage undercuts it by $2K or so, which in that segment is 15-20%…

    The math just does not add up in the favor of Sonic. Plus add the confusion & competition with Spark in the bottom end and even a bare bones Cruise on the other end, once someone gets to the dealership and…

    • 0 avatar
      CaliCarGuy

      Yea but the Fiesta and @ are way smaller then the Sonic, especially the 2, which btw only has 100 hp. The Mirage is overpriced for what it is. I drove both before I got my Sonic and they are dangerous to merge with. The only thing though is the Sonic starts to make less sense once you get into the upper trims and start adding on options. You can either get a better used car for the money or move up to a Cruze.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      GM’s warranty expenses are up 30% year-over-year if their 10K is to be believed.

      I don’t know how things are with this little car, but I wouldn’t be terribly optimistic. Are there demographic factors that make Spark buyers more sensitive to a car with problems? Possibly.

      Here it is:

      Product warranty and related liabilities
      3,582 This year, up from 2,721 last year ( in millions) From note 13.

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    I just logged 1,600 miles on my Sonic driving down to Charlotte, NC and back, and she’s now up over 46K. The seats, while not the most comfortable, did their job well enough over the 24+ hours I was in the car. I got 38.8 MPG total over the trip averaging between 70 and 75 MPH.

    Not a single problem to report yet, save the glovebox I broke (and GM fixed for me for free).

    The turbo engine and two-door-like look that sold me and the wife. The interior feels cheap, but it’s a sub-$20k car…I’m not expecting much.

    It’s not the world’s greatest car, but as someone who is paying for it…I’m damn happy with my decision.

    We liked it so much that my sister-in-law went and bought herself one too.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      My Saturn’s naturally aspirated 1.9 DOHC I4 (LL0) mounted to an auto trans achieved 38mpg from Pittsburgh to Winchester, VA in 2008. I’d say the avg speed was probably 60, 70 or faster on the turnpike but slower down 522 through WV/VA.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      The VW Golf is a sub 20k car in base form too. That’s the Sonics problem and nearly anything in that class once you add options. I know the VW hatred is deep here, but I’m not buying a Sonic over a Golf and I’m generally impressed with the Sonic. But base Golf over mid to high trim Sonic? VW wins for me.

  • avatar
    darex

    It’s an Aveo, and it’s ugly. How long could it stay selling well?

    There are many better hatches out.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    As the Sonics go, I think I would prefer the sedan – it looks like a real car.

    If people are not buying these and others like them because gas prices are down, they’re in for a rude awakening – gas prices are rising and they’ll be sorry.

    Some people buy cars like these as a extra car in the family, and that’s a good idea. However, if you need a “real” car, you wouldn’t buy one, anyhow.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Why would anyone buy a questionable Sonic, when for the same money you can get a solid Corolla?

  • avatar
    mx5ta

    I read most of the comments, with many expected “Government Motors” wisecracks. I won’t get into the quagmire of arguing whether or not the government bailout should have happened, but will raise the question: Now that the gov’t has divested itself (I think?) of its GM shares, what would stop GM, if they desired, from putting out a few models and calling them “Pontiac” or “Oldsmobile”? Or did the gov’t specify that, in perpetuity, those brand names/divisions are forbidden?

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      https://www.yahoo.com/autos/the-10-most-reliable-car-brands-from-a-car-117171887192.html

      An article by Steve Lang. Count how many times GM is listed as having a most-reliable car.

      Corvette, anyone?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        In fairness its Corvette, Buick Park Ave & Lucerne, Chevrolet Prism and Pontiac Vibe or really: Corvette, 3800, and NUMMI. The Church has spoken.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          “The Church has spoken.”

          Indeed!

          And now for another selection from the hymnal,

          http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/ford-recalls-390000-cars-for-dangerous-door-latches/ar-AAbDBNc

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Posting recalls is worthless. 60 million vehicles were recalled in the US last year.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Today’s reading is from the Book of Fuel Injectus:

            Avoid ye temptations of turbo or ye will waste thy fuel and inevitable reside in the house of dealer service.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            bbal, exactly my point! Something we in America can cherish and be proud of.

            Gawd, it just makes you want to run out and buy a Ford or GM product.

            It’s not like they didn’t have the time or the experience to design and build them right.

      • 0 avatar
        PonchoIndian

        you seem to have forgotten all the Toyotas recalled because of sticking gas pedals…

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Ditto for the direct injection and CVT craze that is sweeping the auto world.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      That is just progress, DI and CVT. My friend, Rudy, and I were on this thread yesterday, doing research on a small car he wants to buy for in-town use by his wife and he considered a Sonic, at one time.

      But now, after reading tuffjuff’s comment about the Corolla, he is gravitating between a Corolla CVT and a Honda Fit. Not exactly the same class, weight and size, but contenders nevertheless.

      Amazing how influential and apropos comments on ttac can actually be in real-life applications.

      • 0 avatar
        PonchoIndian

        Amazing how influential and apropos comments on ttac can actually be in real-life applicat

        Anyone who makes their purchasing decisions based on TTAC comments, or any other message board comments really must be High. Even the respected journalists can’t recommend CVT’s, and we all know the DI has positives and negatives that is really making it neutral in the benefit category at this point.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Maybe different people look for different solutions to their situations.

          I would not recommend a CVT, but it is not MY place to recommend a buy to someone who asks for my help.

          I see my place in the process as helping the individual to gather as much info as possible to make an informed decision.

          Rudy and his wife are in their seventies. I doubt they would look for the same criteria that you or I do.

          And I doubt seriously that anyone of that maturity would keep ANY vehicle beyond the factory warranty period.

          As an option to buying, I also suggested Leasing since he also owns a 1999 F250 V10 and a 2002 Camry V6.

  • avatar
    CaliCarGuy

    I just bought my Sonic two months ago and love it. Just hate I didnt get the turbo model and the mpg is so so. Ive been averaging 28 overall for some reason. I was sold on the fact that its really the only American branded compact car thats actually built in America and I love the looks of the hatch. Some people think its a two door. Didnt care for the four door. The four door models of cars in the size category have weird proportions to me, especially the Fiesta and the Rio.

    One of the reason though that I think its fell behind in sales is because alot of the Nissan dealerships are basically giving away Versas. Its not uncommon to find them selling for below 10k. But its bare bones, no a/c, crank windows.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    Someone above suggested GM should have just one small hatch offered as stripped gas or loaded electric. Sounds like the Spark! Miserable with a 1.2 liter gas engine, but an absolute riot to drive as a flyweight electric with 400 lb ft of torque. So why have the Sonic too? Because the Spark is a true city car: tiny, slab sided, no real sound insulation: not your friend on the freeway. The Sonic, like the Cruze, is as refined as a car from one or two classes above it. One is optimized as a park-anywhere runabout, the other as a pleasant commuter.
    But compared to a Sonic, a Cruze has far better perceived quality inside (dig the baby Cadillac stack) and out (far nicer paint job), plus more space, and can be had for similar money. Maybe what Chevy needs instead of the Sonic is a Cruze wagon/hatch.

  • avatar
    shaker

    The problem with the Sonic is that you have to drive it to appreciate it. But, they need to make it more attractive and get the price more in line with others in the segment.

    To me, the Sonic has “a face only a mother can love…”

    • 0 avatar
      scwmcan

      If you implying that the sonic would look better with a different front clip, I would agree, I think the major problem with its looks is the front, I like the rest of it ( especially the hatch, but I like hatches in general).

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So sales plunged about the same time the Trax showed up on the showroom floor.

    My theory, Trax is canibalizing Sonic, and Sonic is aged so Fit is pulling on the high end, Versa is pulling budget shoppers on the low,end.


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