So Long, Sonic: Another GM Car Bites the Dust
This was a long time coming. In fact, Wednesday’s announcement of the discontinuation of the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact was expected to arrive by the end of last year, not halfway through the present one.
Regardless, the small hatchback and sedan that greeted buyers near the outset of the 2010s will not last more than a year into the 2020s. It’s dead come October.
The news comes to us via CNBC, which quotes company spokeswoman Megan Soule as saying GM’s Orion Assembly will switch to manufacturing a crossover version of the Chevrolet Bolt (Bolt EUV) come 2021. The Michigan factory already cranks out the all-electric Bolt. The discontinuation of the Sonic was the product of “declining demand,” Soule said.
Appearing for the 2012 model year, the Sonic was a subcompact, youth-oriented companion to the larger Cruze compact car. Both models shared their thrifty, downsized powertrains (1.8-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder, 1.4-liter turbo).
Initially, as the U.S. bounced back from the Great Recession and cheap, fuel-efficient passengers cars briefly exploded in popularity, the Sonic fared fairly well. After climbing to a high water mark of 93,518 units sold in 2014, demand for the nimble little car tapered off. Sales declined each year thereafter, falling to a barely significant 13,971 units in 2019.
The far more expensive and complex Bolt sold more examples last year, though not considerably more.
Following the recent scrapping of the Chevy Cruze, Volt, and Impala, the departure of the Sonic leaves Chevrolet — and GM — with a single non-sports, non-electric, domestically built passenger car: the Malibu. And that’s a sedan that’s also facing its eventual demise. The tiny, imported Spark remains in the catalog.
What a difference a decade makes.
While the Sonic’s days are soon over, the assembly plant will retain its current complement of workers in order to build the Bolt EUV — a vehicle no one’s yet laid eyes on, but one that should bump up the electric nameplate’s cargo and utility factor.
In the meantime, expect to see cheap deals this fall as dealers rid themselves of all remaining examples of the Sonic. No longer offered with the base 1.8L and saddled with a standard six-speed automatic, the Sonic retains its initial hatchback usability and fun-to-drive characteristics.
[Images: General Motors]
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