Earlier this year, a bombshell report claimed General Motors was beginning to study the elimination of various passenger cars from its portfolio. Notably, the Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Volt, Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Sonic, and Cadillac CT6 were named as potential loose ends ready for chopping. We should note, Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen rebuked the report and said there are no plans to kill off the CT6 sedan. However, the other vehicles named saw no defense from GM.
Now, analysts believe GM will have no choice but to consolidate its passenger car lineup as its North American factories go underutilized and build slow-selling sedans in a market eager for more SUVs, trucks and crossovers, according to The Wall Street Journal. GM currently operates 17 plants in North America. Five operate round-the-clock to build trucks and SUVs—the others remain under-used.
We’re beginning to see plants that once built only cars transition to multi-purpose facilities. For example, the Fairfax, Kansas, plant will add a Cadillac crossover to the production line, likely the Cadillac XT4. Right now, it builds the Chevrolet Malibu exclusively.
Analysts pointed to CEO Mary Barra’s willingness to shed losing operations as a factor in future product decisions. Barra pulled the plug on Australian manufacturing, exited India, Russia, and most notably, shed its money-losing European operations with the sale of Opel and Vauxhall.
“I would expect to see GM make some bold moves on their car lineup,” said Jeff Schuster, an analyst at research firm LMC Automotive.
The coming years will be key to understand GM’s strategy moving forward. Even if passenger cars die off, GM plans for 20 new battery-electric cars by 2023. Two of them will arrive in the next 18 months.