By on April 26, 2018

2017 Chevrolet Sonic, Image: General Motors

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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7 Comments on “Chevrolet Sonic Pulls CARB Vanishing Act for 2019...”


  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Well as a Mazda fan I have to give some credit that they saw the subcompact sedan market was not profitable for everyone and decided not to ship to USA however still had the foresight to team with Toyota and sell it through them and literally sell more than they alone ever could.

    I refuse to give Sergio any credit due to the fact that he knew the 200 and Dart were compromised vehicles from the start. From the engines to transmission to interior space, fit and finish, all lagged the competition from the start. It appeared he never wanted to make them anyway and was only concerned about the short term goal “profits”.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The Dart fulfilled the terms of Fiat’s purchase of Chrysler. The 200 was the first attempt to use elements of an Alfa platform to replace a Chrysler design, and mostly due to its size, it was unsuccessful in the marketplace. That doesn’t bode well for the design of other models that are to replace the RWD 300, Charger, and Challenger.

  • avatar
    detlump

    I have to give GM credit for getting the styling of the Sonic right, the sedan and hatch both look better to me now than they did at introduction. I actually think the Sonic looks better than the current Cruze, which to me looks more like a Korean car than the original Cruze did. I am not in the market for a car but everytime I see the current Sonic, I do like the styling.

  • avatar
    TTACFanatic

    The Sonic and Cruze sedans are redundant. They have practically the same interior and trunk size and before the Cruze refresh, had the same engine. How the Spark lives on while the Sonic hatch dies off is a real mystery.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The Spark hits a nice niche for people who are at the bottom-of-the-market and don’t want to buy used. Transaction prices tend to be, on average, well below $13K. Meanwhile, the Cruze dips enough into Sonic prices that it makes the latter rather redundant.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Pour one out.

  • avatar
    Guitar man

    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.


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