By on August 29, 2018

With Ford abandoning the sedan business for what it hopes are greener pastures, General Motors is going to stick with it. While it’s doubtful the automaker expects to pick up every customer the Blue Oval leaves behind, the sedan market still has millions of potential customers in it.

However, with the industry shifting ever more toward crossover vehicles, wouldn’t it be wiser to attempt to get out ahead of the craze? That’s what Ford is doing.

Plus, it’s not like there are any examples of Ford bucking the industry trend to persist with a vintage body style that resulted in any amount of success. Well, not unless you’re willing to count something like the Panther platform. But who remembers that footnote in automotive history? It’s not as if it has a deep-seated enthusiast community or reliably served a very specific subset of the market for any length of time. 

General Motors decided to roll the dice anyways, with Chevrolet claiming it will continue building cars in every segment, from subcompact to full-size, in an attempt to gain a share of the market Ford is leaving up for grabs.

“It’s a pretty big opportunity for us,” Steve Majoros, Chevy’s marketing director for cars and crossovers, told Automotive News during a media drive for the 2019 Chevy Camaro and Malibu. “As other people are making noise about leaving the car business or thrifting back their portfolio, there’s still business to be had there. It’s just going about the business in a smart fashion.”

Utility vehicles are what makes GM the majority of its money, but the automaker noted that cars still represented 32 percent of U.S. sales in 2018. That’s a meaningful decline from 46 percent in 2014, but Majoros thinks car sales have just about bottomed out.

Still, “going about the business in a smart fashion” likely doesn’t involve huge investments in new sedans until there is more money in it. General Motors will likely persist with the cars it has for as long as possible, as cheaply as it can manage. But it can’t exactly leave them alone, either.

For 2019, Chevrolet gave the Malibu a larger and rather handsome grille, an all-new continuously variable automatic transmission, and the new RS trim. While the RS is effectively a sports appearance package, it does widen the car’s profit margin while boosting appeal of a model that’s in a shrinking — although still substantial — segment. We expect Chevy to pursue a similar strategy for the rest of its cars, save for the Camaro.

“There’s still volume to be had there,” Majoros said. “We’ve done a nice job about taking a responsible approach to the product. If other competitors are leaving, we’re very happy to pick up that business, and we’ll certainly do that.”

[Image: General Motors]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

48 Comments on “Thanks for the Customers: Chevrolet Will Continue Building Many Sedans as Ford Exits the Stage...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    Maybe Chevrolet could build a sedan that evokes something other than yawns and wincing. Otherwise this news is painful for us that have to rent these 1.5T junk cars.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      I don’t think Chevy makes a truly bad looking car. They are fairly bland though. I actually thing the Bu in certain trims can look pretty good. Has a very nice roofline almost A7 ish. But yeah, they could definitely infuse some more exciting design into their current offerings.

      I haven’t driven the 1.5T, but guessing you don’t like the base offerings from other manufacturers either because it is fairly competitive in specs/power to other base engines. Truly, just happy there is another choice that it not a crossover. Good for GM.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I’m sorry but driving the 1.5T is as bad as pulling an iron duke out of a 1983 S10 and throwing it unchanged under the hood of the Malibu. However I bet the iron Duke could get better MPG than the 23 I saw in the Malibu with the 1.5T.

        I’m sorry but that experience along with the last gen Cruze colored my experience of GMs car lineup, Im sure the Impala with the 3.6 can get… but at it’s price point I would expect RWD, as is there’s nothing special about it and is easily bested by the Charger.

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve rented a few 1.5T Malibus. The motor is not like anything from Honda or Audi, but comparing it to an Eighties Iron Duke is drama queen stuff. You really don’t know how good we’ve got it today.

          I hope the Malibu refresh improves things. They’re fine, but I prefer Fusions and Japanese & Korean sedans. I pulled 32mpg with a steady 75-80mph cruise for several hours in the South. Gas tank is too small for range, and inferior fit and finish.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      They did. How many SSs did you buy?

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Hummer literally did buy a brand new SS sedan with a manual transmission. I don’t know what more a single individual can do than that.

        My feeling is once you’ve put your money where your mouth is you can complain all you want.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I mean since the 1990s Impala SS what has Chevrolet built? SS sedan was wholly Holden built.
        It’s a fantastic car that meets all of my expectations, GM V8, since it’s a car with sporting intentions (rather than a truck) I require a manual, which I did get. Has magnetic ride control, which I don’t require but helps make the car great in curves without sacrificing ride comfort. RWD is another requirement for a car, check. But I wouldn’t call it a Chevrolet more than I would call a CTS-V a Chevrolet.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Ford’s loss could be Chevy’s gain. Makes sense to me.

  • avatar
    forward_look

    As long as Ford makes a Focus hatchback, I don’t mind if they raise it an inch and call it a CUV.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    It’s a mirror of the full-size commercial van market. Ford and FCA moved forward with modern, European-style vans, while GM continues to build the Express and Savanna for those who still want traditional BOF vans.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So when are we going to get an Impala based on the P2XX platform that underpins the 3rd Gen LaCrosse? (hopefully a revised Impala would keep the 19 cubic foot trunk of the current model)

  • avatar
    Gregaryous2

    Just like the turn of the century when cars just got their start, people still invested in horse drawn carriages… see what it got them… same for Chevy.
    They will unload tons of cars, like the new Malibu on car rentals… at a loss!

    The Ford Fusion is still going to be sold into 2020-21, another 3-years so its not like Ford is abandoning all car sales immediately… Plus they may introduce the Fusion Active cuv (like the Focus Active) before Fusion car sales end to test the market and give Subaru some real competition… Same goes for Jeep when the Bronco family of real SUV’s is launched, Raptor versions too!

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Where would we be without hooptie Impalas from BHPH lots, running 22s?

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    If they would bring back sedans that had some headroom, even with a sunroof and had useful features and got rid of that god forsaken console they may find takers. I for one would like to see it so.
    Make sedans great again !
    MSGA !

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      May I show you an Impala, sir?

      • 0 avatar
        Menar Fromarz

        Can I still get a bench front seat and column shift?

        • 0 avatar
          forward_look

          Several on the lots in Havana

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          I can agree with better headroom (especially in the rear), but what would be the point of a front bench? Modern sedans, even full-sizers, aren’t wide enough to fit 3 across comfortably. The dearly departed W-body Impala had a middle seating position about 8″ wide, and you sat on the hump.

          • 0 avatar
            Menar Fromarz

            not concerned about putting a third there, just like the airiness and visual room with no console. Cannot stand those things. Unless its a ’64Riv, or ’60’s T bird. But your point is well taken!

    • 0 avatar

      Really! Agree totally. In Europe minivans have front bench seats with a contour and dashboard shifter so you can sit three abreast. If one of the four minivan makers in this market were to offer that configuration, I’m sure there would be takers.

      Traditional “American” sedans are too Euro now. Any time we’ve been in a 300, Charger, Impala, Taurus or Avalon, my wife says “THIS is now a full-sized car?” They totally screwed the pooch with fastback “styling.” Those consoles are a waste when a rotary shifter can go on a dashboard.

      Imagine if GM — or any maker — were to build a sedan with a rounded front, plus mid- and rear dimensions based on something like the 1977-90 GM B-cars. Imagine if they really squeezed out the interior volume.

      In that market, only cops and enthusiast fanboys would really gives a damn whether it’s RWD or FWD as long as it has AWD available.

      That could be the new retro car. Maybe then you’d see a revival of interest.

  • avatar
    iddqd

    ballsy move by Ford- if not to say plain idiotic…
    as said before,some twitching here and there (get rid of the uglya** console, decent drivetrains etc (Volvo anyone), and the costumers would buy more Ford sedans- same here in europe..
    from germany

  • avatar
    mike978

    Good for GM although getting rid of Opel (which made sense financially) means they don`t have car platforms ready to ship over. Whereas Ford would have the Focus, Fiesta and Fusion ready to go.

    Two points about Ford that those who defend the removal of cars don’t address when they say “oh they can always bring them over again if there is a gas price hike”. One is that name equity gets diminished. GM and Ford realised this when they stopped changing car names every generation (Cobalt etc) and sticking with a name continuously can pay dividends and 2) if say Ford built 1 million Focus before this announcement and now only make 800,000 because the US market was c. 200000 Focus sales. Then the R&D is the same but spread over a smaller number, plus vendor quotes will be for less units, which would mean cost per unit being a bit higher. Therefore their profit margin on the Focus in the other markets takes a hit. Unless I am missing something.

    • 0 avatar
      Gregaryous2

      Ford is using 5 platforms going forward with common modules that make up 70% of the vehicle, remaining 30% is unique top hat.

      That presents a very profitable structure no matter what the volume or where it’s made… Great flexibility.

      Chevy staying with current cars n pushing volume to rental agencies to keep old platforms competitive is not cost effective but money loser, that’s why Ford (and others) getting out of that business. It ties up resources (mfg plants) that could be utilized for more profitable vehicles.

      Watch Chevy push volumes to rental fleets to keep plants running n erode residual values… Not a car I want to buy n lose my $$$.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      If Ford is smart they basically pulled an MQB and spread the R&D across every FWD vehicle they make. Once a chassis is done the real R&D is in drivetrains anyway.

      And the R&D is going to be spread across less vehicles no matter what as Ford’s sedan volume has been tanking.

      Everyone is mad at Ford for this move but I have yet to hear any solid alternative plans. If people wanted Ford to keep making cars they should have bought them and paid MSRP.

    • 0 avatar
      Robotdawn

      GM doesn’t need Opel now, they have China to give them volume on smaller cars.

  • avatar
    GoFaster58

    Chevy gave Malibu a larger and rather handsome grille? The thing is friggin’ ugly!

    • 0 avatar
      Mackie

      Agreed. Chevy needs to ditch that busy double grille design.

    • 0 avatar

      It is not uglier than the Camry. Be fair……………

      Ford – what a disgrace!

      • 0 avatar
        iddqd

        Ford somewhat destroyed their lineup of sedans and hatches by putting in that Aston-Martin- copycat of a grill…
        noone bought it, quit literally…
        on top of that a darn ugly console and for years a barely functionig microsoft sync device…
        they figured out the nav, but apart of that there are alot of questions left to answer..
        my advice would be:
        stop copycatting obvious designs and come up with a BRAND-ONLY type of design- for what its worth, take the f-150 as a proto.
        give it a DECENT console, NOT that sub-par looking stuff fitted now. (take Volvo as a role model- lessis more!)
        fit it with decent engines- focussed on the coming electric age.

        • 0 avatar
          iddqd

          on a second thought, isn`t it that all the pickups are now copycatting Ford`s grill /badge on trucks (cept GMC perhaps), whereas Fors is copying Aston Martin on their sedans/hatches?
          In China, copying someone/thing is deemed the highest compliment…
          should make them thinking…
          apart of that, the traditional Ford PLUM badge is pretty outdated-
          i have seen this with Volvo- they only slightly adjusted their badge with the co-aligning speer now and now the badge looks plain posh…
          just food for Ford.

        • 0 avatar

          The Focus continues to sell near 200K units. Yes, a lot is fleet but that’s hardly “no one.”

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “The Focus continues to sell near 200K units. Yes, a lot is fleet but that’s hardly “no one.””

            for the past year or so, there’s been enough cash on the hood of the Focus where it’s almost as cheap as the Fiesta.

            At some point you can’t “make it up on volume.”

          • 0 avatar

            Sorry I meant Fusion

  • avatar

    with the recent change to employee purchase plan, GM will drop under 15% share.

    they have now managed to alienate their most loyal clients.

  • avatar
    vehic1

    Perhaps the CUV/SUV/pickup trend will continue, until 100% of buyers select something from these segments. Perhaps, as was the case with minivans, diesels, and even convertibles – they’ll fade somewhat, as another trend/fad replaces them.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    As a 1st Gen Volt owner I’m curious if GM will offer a 3rd Gen Volt. I suspect they won’t but hope they’ll be smart enough to stick the Voltec drive package in a CUV of some sort.

  • avatar

    For the first time ever Ford stock may be junked!!!! Just about everyone now agrees Fords car cancellation move was one of the company’s worst decisions ever. The company that avoided bankruptcy a decade ago is now facing Junk status. How long does Hackett have?

    Bloomberg Headline today

    Ford Teeters Toward Junk With Moody’s Warning of Restructuring Risks

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      They should’ve been killed off decades ago, but how many automakers don’t sell pickups, how do they survive, and how many do but shouldn’t?

      There’s no “rules” here. And it’s not like you have to know anything about “the auto industry” to own Ford stock, or to have an opinion on it.

      • 0 avatar
        iddqd

        i second that- bloomberg is a minute step above rating agencies, who have ZERO credibility.
        ford needs to do something regarding their `commercial`vehicles, but cutting them altogether is the wrong move, imho.

      • 0 avatar

        Toyota sells both cars and trucks and is now the world’s largest carmaker. Their stock is nearly triple that of Ford. Ford is now the runt of the big three.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    I agree with other posters here – yes it’s good to see Chevrolet sticking it out, probably at Ford’s expense, in this shrinking market. But the sedans that they offer leave me high & dry – pretty much a BFD! (and I don’t mean Baltimore Fire Department)

  • avatar
    thornmark

    >>For 2019, Chevrolet gave the Malibu a larger and rather handsome grille, an all-new continuously variable automatic transmission, and the new RS trim. While the RS is effectively a sports appearance package, it does widen the car’s profit margin while boosting appeal of a model that’s in a shrinking — although still substantial — segment<<

    C&D is impressed w/ the RS but says it's still a rental car and not w/in striking distance of being competitive w/ the Accord.

  • avatar

    “It’s just going about the business in a smart fashion.”

    Majoros is 100% correct. Unfortunately, he works at General Motors. They rival the Democratic Party when it comes to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • redapple: Corey A380 is the massive – bigger – than a 747. I think it was a A 320 or 319. PS- I do like...
  • FreedMike: That’s a feature, for sure. You might want to find out if the former owner bought a service contract...
  • Fordson: I agree – since you’re going to look at the car in person before you buy it (for this kind of...
  • Stanley Steamer: I’ve done that before. Bought a Wrangler on ebay and flew out with plates and drove it home...
  • redapple: Defensive Parking is a must. I usually have a massive PIG up Truck next to me. Ha Ha! $4-5 /gallon gas...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States