Are you sad that Chevy is killing the Sonic? Did you even know that Chevy still builds the Sonic? You know, the little hatchback that landed soon after GM’s bankruptcy? It seemed like the perfect car for those Great Recession times. But then it got lost in the truck and SUV zeitgeist and has been headed nowhere for years. Chevy is picking off its sedans one by one to make room for more trucks and SUVs. So the dead car countdown continues as the Chevy Sonic won’t be the last car GM has to kill soon.
Cruze, Aveo, Sprint, Spark, Bolt, Sonic; these compact and subcompact Chevy hatchbacks sort of mushed together. It was hard to distinguish one from the other. Or maybe we just didn’t really care? By 2014 as the impact of the Great Recession wound down Chevy sold 93,000 Sonics. Then, the slide in numbers began until Chevy could only eke out barely 14,000 last year.
Big body-on-frame vehicles are Chevy’s raison d’etre, not the Sonic
You can’t stay in GM’s lineup with those numbers. And GM has to sell a few Sonics to get the same return as one Suburban. GM has never been able to make a ton of dough from small cars. That’s why this truck/SUV run delights GM. Big body-on-frame vehicles are its raison d’etre. It would be quite happy if this trend went on forever, but we all know it won’t.
As it stands now the Malibu is the last domestic sedan GM makes. There is also the Spark, but it is an import and a tiny one at that. It sells around 25,000-30,000 units a year depending on which year you look at. So it’s on borrowed time, too. The Malibu for all of its features and updates is facing the end of production soon. We don’t see it lasting past 2021 although the coronavirus has changed plans and schedules throughout the auto industry.
The Sonic MSRP was always a bit higher than either the Ford Fiesta and Toyota Yaris. That didn’t help sales, especially from a Chevy that didn’t offer anything compelling to entice import hatchback buyers. A Kia Rio or Hyundai Accent offered plenty of features with 10-year/100,000-mile warranties. And they are both newer models than the Sonic.
There’s a dearth of advertising and marketing for the Chevy Sonic
It has always been a puzzle why Japanese and South Korean manufacturers are able to produce compelling small cars while domestic manufacturers can’t. Or won’t. There’s a dearth of advertising and marketing for the Sonic. By all accounts, dealer inventories of Sonics have been small to nil. And the subcompact car segment was down over 10% last year.
So, if you’re hankering for a domestic sedan your choices are about halved with the Sonic canceling production in the next few months. With the sedan market evaporating expect GM to charge into its truck and SUV markets with many flavors. A mini-truck and/or a compact crossover in Chevy’s lineup would fare much better than any previous time.