The report suggests that Chevrolet will end production of the Sonic subcompact as early as this year. It also indicates Ford plans to stop building the Fiesta for the United States (a next-generation model is already on sale in Europe) and discontinue the Taurus, the large sedan whose name, resurrected as a 2008 model after being discontinued in 2006, was for years Ford’s bread-and-butter volume car seller. The WSJ cited anonymous sources for both companies who it said were familiar with internal discussions.
If true, the plans would continue a trend of domestic automakers paring their car lineups that began two years ago when Fiat-Chrysler announced it would phase out the poorly selling Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart. Oh, and WSJ says FCA may now even be considering killing off the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, the latter of which would surely displease throngs of muscle-car enthusiasts. And of course GM has been rumored to be considering the axe for several slow-selling cars, including the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid, as it eyes adding yet more trucks and SUVs to a market that’s already saturated with them.
It’s a trend with no end in sight, as fuel prices remain low and the Trump administration eyes a rollback of tough Obama-era fuel-efficiency mandates. Sales of sedans, coupes and other car segments represented just 37 percent of U.S. sales in 2017, down from 51 percent in 2012, the Journal reports.
Ford is reportedly still mulling the long-term fate of the Fusion midsize sedan, having just unveiled a refreshed 2019 version last month, while GM is also considering killing off the Chevy Impala. Elsewhere, we’ve seen how Honda’s well-regarded new Accord is struggling to move units and that even luxury sedans have struggled as more well-heeled buyers switch to luxury SUVs.
Clearly, there is a trend here away from cars, but it’s important to note that the Sonic and Fiesta are subcompact cars with thin profit margins and unremarkable sales. The Taurus, meanwhile, is a stale product in a segment that has particularly been hit hard by the SUV trend. So while car fans may be losing some choices, this particular cull seems like unsurprising, low-hanging fruit from a business perspective.