By on May 16, 2018

Image: GM

Given the automaker’s sales numbers, it’s not the wildest prediction. Investment bank Morgan Stanley sees General Motors’ American passenger car lineup — or most of it, anyway — disappearing in the near future.

The move would see GM adopt a similar product strategy as its Detroit Three rivals, with sedans relegated to overseas markets and focus placed firmly on the production of trucks, crossovers, and SUVs. Barring $4 or $5 gasoline, domestic buying habits make this prediction seem inevitable — and there’s already rumblings of an impending cull in the automaker’s stable.

Speaking to Bloomberg Television, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said he feels GM will abandon much of its car lineup in favor of light trucks and battery electric vehicles. “The consumer’s kind of done that for them,” he said.

As the Environmental Protection Agency prepares to roll back corporate average fuel economy standards, light trucks — already a breadwinner for all three automakers — stand to benefit. But Jonas said no member of the Detroit Three wants to get caught up in the battle between California (and California-aligned states) and the feds over fuel economy rules. He feels that, if forced to make a choice, GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler will head over to team Cali. Battery electric vehicles could replace small cars in the vehicle mix, offsetting the increased fuel economy of a truck-heavy fleet.

Earlier this year, a report claimed GM plans to pull the plug on the subcompact Sonic, with the full-size Impala disappearing after the current generation winds down. Presumably, its Buick LaCrosse sister car would go the same route. While we now know that the Sonic will return for the 2019 model year, it isn’t known whether the subcompact car will survive next year.

GM Korea, which assembles the Chevrolet Spark city car, claims it may ditch that model in favor of a U.S.-friendly crossover model. Meanwhile, GM’s Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant, home of the Chevrolet Cruze, just moved to a single shift. It once housed three shifts.

Sales of all of GM’s sedans are well down from their post-recession highs.

It would seem the writing’s on the wall. While Ford has decided to stop domestic sales of all passenger cars except the Mustang and a crossover-ized Focus, FCA continues production of its full-size sedans. The automaker got out of the small and midsize car game some time ago.

If GM follows suit, it’s possible Cadillac’s upcoming sedans will be the company’s last, though the automaker recently announced a 2019 refresh for the Cruze and Malibu. Camaro production — and certainly that of the Corvette — would surely continue, as sports cars seem to be a segment no one’s willing to drop.

[Image: General Motors]

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61 Comments on “Morgan Stanley Is Pretty Sure GM’s Cars Will Soon Go the Way of Ford’s...”

  • avatar

    Strange times indeed.

    • 0 avatar
      Kalvin Knox

      Scary times for people like us.

    • 0 avatar

      The times are no stranger now than years past, when Wall Street types predicted other, similar things. I remember one Wall street analyst saying eventually everyone would drive a minivan, and there would be no rear wheel drive except for pickups.

      • 0 avatar

        Kinda true there, “CUV”s are really minivans minus the sliding door (mini-van as in the original Chrysler van circa 1985).

        • 0 avatar

          If only, 28 cars! CUVs can only dream of the space utilization of the original K-platform minivans. But there is truth in your statement. I think the layman appreciates the tall-roof and hatch utility of a crossover (“I can haul a small shelf or big screen TV home!”), albeit that angle of things gets specious when you get to the compact CUV class where trunk room with seats up really shrinks, and some larger and more luxurious entries with sloping hatches really take a hit in cargo carrying ability.

        • 0 avatar

          I think you folks are correct both in the CUV being a minivan and at the same time a less functional version of one. Minivans are nearly a perfect family vehicle, however, they have such a stigma against them in the perceived style

      • 0 avatar

        “I remember one Wall street analyst saying eventually everyone would drive a minivan, and there would be no rear wheel drive except for pickups.”

        And he was half right.

      • 0 avatar

        Remember when Time magazine, enamored with his vaguely anti-automobile reference to “suicide machines” proclaimed that Bruce Springsteen was THE NEXT BOB DYLAN…LOL

  • avatar

    I came out of the supermarket this morning and I looked up the row I had parked in…15 or 16 CUV/SUVs and one car, my R/T. Strange indeed. On the bright side it’s easier to find my car now.

  • avatar

    It just keeps getting harder and harder to find a decent overpriced, plasticky, cheap-feeling car.

  • avatar
    Kalvin Knox

    It will be a sad day if/when we ever see the impala or malibu name on a stupid friggin crossover.
    With gas prices rising like this, I really don’t understand how these automakers honestly think this is a good long term idea. Sure, they all say they’ll be offering a large electric fleet by 2020-22, but look how much trouble Tesla is having these days. I honestly don’t believe that electric cars are going to be truly ready for the average joe to own until at LEAST 2027-30. Rent, Short lease maybe, but Own for 5-10+ years? I’m not so sure.

    As an 18 year old, I honestly cannot understand my generation’s obsession with these stupid little fake SUVs. If you want a smaller, 4 door car with a liftgate, GET A HATCHBACK. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but seriously; Who are these people who would honestly want a Ford “EcoSport” or a Chevy Trax/Buick Encore? They look horrible, they get worse fuel economy than the equivalent hatchback, they’re pathetically slow, they’re numb to drive, and they are WAY more expensive. People are so weird when it comes to common sense, money, and taste.

    My perfect small SUV is something similar to the 80s-90s Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee, except more modern and with much better rustproofing.
    Body on frame construction, 4, 6 or 8 cylinder engines, four wheel drive as STANDARD, a decent array of colors, options and trim levels, and most importantly, It actually has space in the back to put stuff. You know, the U in SUV?

    Sometimes I feel like I’m already a crotchety old man. Get your crossover off my lawn ya dang kids!

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve found it’s helpful to think of the general public’s perception of cars as similar to how they perceive apparel: as fashion. Fashion is trendy, oftentimes annoying, and very rarely makes sense.

      And this is nothing new, of course. Look back to the ’70s – personal luxury coupes were all the rage. They were HUGE overall, but their cabins were tiny. They were accented with gingerbread like luggage racks that never got used, vinyl carriage roofs that were supposed to evoke the horseless carriage days (?!) and ended up fading and cracking, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      18? Eh? Hmmm…..

    • 0 avatar

      “As an 18 year old, I honestly cannot understand my generation’s obsession with these stupid little fake SUVs.”
      wait until you spent some of your adult life working, maybe spending sometime in the service or overseas volunteers orgs, looking after kids, helping out your family, and your body wears down over time, and get back to us how much you understood at age 18.

      And believe me, few 18 year old buy cars on their own, moms and dads are paying for it.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      They are easier to get into and out of. So preferred by ‘older’ consumers.
      They have a higher road clearance. So preferable in areas that have snow accumulation on the road.
      Their higher height reduces windshield splash caused by trucks/transports, a not inconsiderable safety consideration (ask the Brothers Baruth).
      Their MPG is now not much worse than that of hatches.

      Just how many people need all wheel drive? For the majority it is a gimmick that adds unnecessary weight, cost and complexity to their vehicle.

      And really what percentage of those buying new cars actually care about ‘driving dynamics’ in comparison to visibility, safety, reliability, utility, proximity to dealer/service.

      Thus perfectly logical reasons why the small CUV market is growing.

    • 0 avatar

      My little base model Fiesta hatch has hauled more tons of chicken feed than most trucks today ever dream of. Very functional, and as you said, fun to drive. But the Ecosport does make a good bit of sense. It does have significantly better room in it, and it’s not noticeable more expensive. Other than the loss of the manual transmission, if it was available when I got my Fiesta I would have considered it. I believe since most people are option for automatics, the fun to drive part is already lost on them and it is a much stronger functionality question.

    • 0 avatar

      You mention Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee then BOF……which the XJ and ZJ never were BOF.

      Sit down, child.

  • avatar

    Car and truck CAFE are two separate things, though they can trade credits between their car and truck fleets the max credit they can apply in a given year is pretty low, so that 100 mpge car won’t help the truck number much at all.

  • avatar

    The domestic brands are retreating to the segments with the most buyer loyalty for them – pickups as the obvious #1 area (by far and away), and then S/CUVs.
    Fuel economy worries may be overstated, however, since the small utes aren’t serious guzzlers (even if a bit less than subcompacts).

    • 0 avatar

      While it’s true that cars are only marginally more fuel efficient than CUVs (at least on paper – I’m not sure the difference is actually that small in the real world), when gas prices get past a certain point, people go insane. I don’t know if you remember, but back in 2008 when gas went past $4 in the cheap states, early 90’s Geo Metros were going for $5-10k, because gas savings! Trucks and SUVs dropped in value, of course, and the manufacturers lost their shirts on lease returns. This time, they won’t have any high-MPG offerings to sell the lemmings, so the financial fallout may be even worse.

  • avatar

    That would be a bummer. I cant say I will necessarily miss too many of GM’s offerings, but I already miss cars in general.

    I think GM needs to keep a Chevy Sedan (Malibu), Camaro and Corvette, and at least one Cadillac Sedan. The Cadillac and Malibu may not be crazy sellers, but I think they serve as an offering in a still important segment.

    This serves to bolster my belief that people suck. I already feel like I am one of the last sedan drivers. But, on the bright side, looks like I will have to buy a sports car at some point in the future after all the regular sedans/coupes are gone.

  • avatar

    Not a surprise by any means, American automakers have been chasing Japanese makes since the 80s. They have finally gotten within spitting distance of the segment leaders, and it’s clear the them that they still just can’t get it. Either not enough profits (or no profits), not enough sales (oversaturation in an unremarkable segment of cars), and tons of expectations by consumers that are simply not possible to meet given their current structure. They’ve abandoned chasing consumer desires in a car and now focus on things that most consumers could care less about, and in many cases make the cars less livable.

    If they hadn’t of abandoned American consumers in their race to out Japanese the Japanese, they wouldn’t be in this position. Consumers probably wouldn’t have abandoned the car segment, or if they did the American manufacturers would still retain an acceptable slice with real profits. As is I think FCA stands to gain the most if they can produce an acceptable replacement to the Charger. If they water down the Charger even a little I doubt there will be an American sedan market for much longer at all.

  • avatar

    Remember, this is some dopey analyst who gets paid to look at the news and make things up based on that. It doesn’t mean GM is actually going to do it, but I do think they will change their sedan offerings.

    Spark – Kept for EPA reasons
    Sonic – Gone
    Cruze – Kept, with the hatch will somewhat replace the Sonic
    Malibu – Kept, goes up a half-size
    Impala – Gone

    Buick will more than likely remain the same lineup for at least the next 5-6 years.

    Cadillac will proceed with their changes to the lineup, and consolidate similar to Chevy. A small/medium car, and a medium/large car.

    • 0 avatar

      Just when the new-for-2019 Buick TourX, er…WILDCATs have arrived!
      It is interesting how small the TourX badge is. The three original WILDCAT emblems will fit perfectly on this wagon.
      I will take the new Dark Moon Blue (they already cancelled the green!)and use my MIDNITR license plates from my 1979 Trans Am, 1997 LSS and 1998 Aurora.

  • avatar

    Toyota appreciates Ford and GM’s kindness.

  • avatar

    Think about it. Years of neglecting making quality product now feels so much at Ford and GM that they themselves dismantle their business. which brings us to conclusion – if your product is [email protected] for any given prolonged duration in time, you will have consequences. Hence, quality product should be first priority and shareholders should come after that.

    • 0 avatar

      WHEN did Ford start claiming that “Quality is Job One” ? 1983 ? I like Ford trucks and vans, but I’m generally unimpressed with their cars and CUVs, and I don’t buy or test drive them. It seems to me that if Ford, GM, and Chrysler had truly learned from the Japanese and later the Koreans, instead of giving only lip-service, they would be making and selling high-quality small cars by now. And their market share would be much higher. They all took on Japanese partners for a time- GM had Isuzu, Suzuki, even Toyota to learn from- and Ford had Mazda and Kia- Chrysler had Mitsubishi. But they failed to do as the Asian partners did- steadily improve your product over two or three decades until it is tops. GM and Ford especially put out a new “world-class” car, with a “fresh start”,, then end it and start over completely with another one 5 years later. Does THAT work ? LOL

  • avatar

    I was right, Ford was simply first. I’m not sure on Ford but Guangzhou Motors will import Chinese mfg’d cars should there be a need such as a prolonged gas spike.

    • 0 avatar

      @28: Technically, FCA was first. The Charger/Chally/300 are just placeholders until the soothsayers can see how the tea leaves read. The Neue 200 and Dart were the first casualties of SUV-itis. Whether or not GM imports cars due to a gas spike seems somewhat irrelevant, as they would probably do one of two things: Import from Mexico, at least as long as we haven’t started a shooting war with them over NAFTA, or double down on S/CUV incentives to move the metal. We’re at the point where the differences in mileage are becoming less of a factor than it was 10 years ago.

      BTW, whatever happened to all of the “drill baby, drill” people on here? Gas goes up to $3/gallon and now I don’t see anyone claiming we’ve got enough fuel here for 200 years…

      • 0 avatar

        I see your point, but I was under the impression those were discontinued because they sucked and it was better to cut of them off rather than spend good money after bad. Chrysler did not wholesale say no cars but Challenger so to speak.

        • 0 avatar

          @28: You’re right, they didn’t pull a Hackett. But, they did the same thing, really. Somewhere in all of the press releases at the time, I seem to recall FCA putting out a statement that they would redirect their efforts into higher profit S/CUVs (read Jeep) etc., etc. FWIW, the Charger/300/Chally are all well amortized and in some cases one of the few entries in their market. But, they’re getting quite old, which is what prompted my earlier comment.

          I don’t know what to think of Hackett’s idea, but I sincerely hope it works out. I don’t know what could be going on at the RenCen, but I hope that they stick to a minimum of two cars here in the US. I could see them carrying on with the Cruze and the Malibu, which could conceivably cover the remainder of the market they command.

  • avatar

    There is very little margin in the car market, especially with all the cash they have to put on the hood of these things. Hell I wonder if Toyota is making any money on the Camry.

    CUVs and SUVs get much better fuel economy now and are a lot more practical for families. Any of you ever take a stroller in and out of a trunk? And for those of you say “well buy a hatchback”, some people don’t like the way hatchbacks look. Many people like the way CUVs and SUVs look.

    Porsche would be dead in the water without the Cayenne. GM and Ford will die a slow death if they don’t respond to market demands in a way that can continue to make them lots of $. Drop the cars. Focus on crossovers. Cars will occupy the entry lux and lux market. The V6 did the same thing a few years ago and while a few people screamed bloody murder, things are just fine now.

    • 0 avatar


    • 0 avatar

      I pulled my back a few months back installing my kid’s car seat in a rental Corolla when my Toyota broke down. These new car seats are huge and heavy and it’s not fun to move the seats or getting kids in and out of the low riding cars.

      But I’m sure 18 year olds have no reason to care about any of that. “Buy a hatchback!”

    • 0 avatar

      “Hell I wonder if Toyota is making any money on the Camry.”

      Toyota does not build things at a loss to appease its unions, so I’d say yes it does make money on Camry et al.

      “Many people like the way CUVs and SUVs look.”

      Many people think the nation economically “recovered”.
      Many people believed in hope and change.
      Many people believe the nation will be great again.
      Many people are brain damaged.

      The same many people will buy whatever the hell is presented to them for illogical reasons.

      “Porsche would be dead in the water without the Cayenne”

      Unless something changed, Porsche is the most profitable automotive marque in the world. It does not live and die on one model, it is not Ford Motor Co.

      “The V6 did the same thing a few years ago and while a few people screamed bloody murder, things are just fine now.”

      This was equally stupid. Give me the most inferior technological crutch possible to make up for something robust and simpler.

  • avatar


    “Drill Baby, Drill!”

    We have plenty of oil in North America.

    • 0 avatar


      Oh yeah, just for you, geozinger, we got 200 year worth of fuel!

    • 0 avatar

      If we have sooooo much oil here (I don’t doubt that we do, North America is geologically blessed) why does everyone worry about another oil price shock? Even the last one was started by speculation, not a lack of supply.

      Between stricter fuel economy rules and this abundance of oil, we should have no worries driving S/CUVs over sedans.

      Although, fuel is about $3.00/gallon these days…

  • avatar

    as I claimed years back… if management can’t figure a successful strategy for Pontiac, you don’t get rid of Pontiac, you get rid of management.


  • avatar

    Well, maybe when the current craze runs its course, we will get “lowered, sporty” versions of the crossovers. Which will be, you know, cars.

  • avatar

    Once car production ceases, what will GM’s entrant in NASCAR be, an Equinox?

  • avatar

    >Morgan Stanley Is Pretty Sure GM’s Cars Will Soon Go the Way of Ford’s


  • avatar

    I read on Motley Fool that GM will most likely keep most of its cars intact. Ford desperately wants another automaker to give credibility to their decision to cancel most of their passenger cars. GM will most likely not follow Ford’s path. They probably want to see how many orphan Fusion and Taurus buyers they can get into their showroom first.

    GM is not going to jump into the sewer Ford created.

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