Chevrolet Sonic Pulls CARB Vanishing Act for 2019
Unlike Ford, which wants everyone to know that small cars aren’t something it’s very interested in building, General Motors is keeping its product cards much closer to its chest.
Still, loose-lipped sources were abuzz this spring, informing various outlets that GM might be going the same route, albeit in a slower, less public fashion. The Chevrolet Sonic was listed as one of the nameplates bound for the graveyard. Now, a California Air Resources Board engine certification document offers new evidence that the subcompact sedan and hatch will not stage a reappearance for 2019.
Uncovered by Bozi Tatarevic, document sleuth extraordinaire and possible private investigator, the CARB doc covers vehicles powered by the lesser of the two GM 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinders. That engine, making 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque, powers The General’s subcompact class (the Chevy Cruze get a direct injected 1.4).
While the CARB certificate for the 2018 model year lists the Sonic, Chevrolet Trax, and Buick Encore, the 2019 doc lists only the Buick Encore and Trax. Not only has the Sonic dropped from the 1.4’s fan list, the all-wheel drive version of the Trax is also nowhere to be found. Currently, adding AWD adds $1,500 to the price of an LS, LT, or Premier model.
Should GM drop the AWD Trax, it would leave the all-weather duties to the slightly pricier Encore.
As for the Sonic, like most small cars, recent years haven’t been kind to sales figures. Volume shrank 21 percent over the first quarter of 2018, and 2017’s tally was less than a third of the model’s 2014 volume. The Sonic’s potential demise comes as GM gears up for an electric vehicle offensive, and the model’s home — Michigan’s Orion Assembly — seems ripe for new models. Besides the Sonic, the only other model produced at Orion is the Chevrolet Bolt. The little EV’s architecture and propulsion system is expected to underpin at least one other GM model.
An email to GM regarding the CARB document was not immediately returned. We’ll update this post after receiving the company’s response.
[Image: General Motors]
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Both the Trax and Spark are being replaced by new crossover models. The Sonic made in Mexico and Korea is fitted only with the older, and cheaper to manufacture, cast iron block Family I engine, which they've managed after 30 years to make without them falling to bits. If the Sonic survives, its likely to be imported from either of those countries.