Thanks for the Customers: Chevrolet Will Continue Building Many Sedans as Ford Exits the Stage

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Thornmark Thornmark on Aug 30, 2018

    >>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

  • BklynPete BklynPete on Aug 31, 2018

    "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.

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X I use a now discontinued Kuhmo AT tire that is surprisingly good in the snow, even in 2WD. However since most of my driving is on road, I'm going to look for a more highway friendly tire for smoother quiet. I'm sure it can still handle the forest roads leading to my fishing spots.
  • MaintenanceCosts So this is really just a restyled VW Fox. Craptacular tin can but fun to drive in a "makes ordinary traffic seem like a NASCAR race" kind of way.
  • THX1136 While reading the article a thought crossed my mind. Does Mexico have a fairly good charging infrastructure in place? Knowing that it is a bit poorer economy than the US relatively speaking, that thought along with who's buying came to mind.
  • Lou_BC Maybe if I ever buy a new car or CUV
  • Lou_BC How about telling China and Mexico, we'll accept 1 EV for every illegal you take off our hands ;)
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