Chevrolet Malibu Discontinued, Ending an Era of Affordable Family Sedans

General Motors has announced the discontinuation of the Chevrolet Malibu, an iconic and affordable family sedan that has been in production for over a century, marking a significant shift in the American automotive landscape as the industry prioritizes electric vehicles and SUVs. The Malibu's exit will result in changes at GM's Kansas City factory, which will undergo a $390 million retooling to produce a new version of the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle, with implications for consumers, the industry, and American families who relied on the Malibu's accessibility and dependability.

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Chevrolet Malibu Discontinued, Ending an Era of Affordable Family Sedans

Chevrolet Malibu Discontinued, Ending an Era of Affordable Family Sedans

General Motors has announced the discontinuation of the Chevrolet Malibu, marking the end of an iconic era in American automotive history. The Malibu, which has been in production for over a century, was the last affordable family sedan from Detroit's Big Three automakers. With no replacement in the works, the Malibu's exit leaves a notable gap in the market.

Why this matters: The discontinuation of the Malibu signals a significant shift in the American automotive landscape, with major implications for consumers and the industry as a whole. As the market continues to prioritize electric vehicles and SUVs, the loss of affordable family sedans may lead to a decrease in accessibility and affordability for many American families.

The Malibu was first introduced in 1964 as an upscale trim option for the Chevrolet Chevelle. It quickly gained popularity, with over 250,000 units sold in its inaugural year. The Malibu continued to evolve over the decades, with the current generation launching in 2013. At its peak in 2016, Chevrolet sold 227,881 Malibus.

The discontinuation of the Malibu is part of a larger trend, as domestic automakers have been paring down their sedan lineups since the mid-2010s to focus on more profitable SUVs and trucks. Ford, Stellantis NV, and GM have all discontinued various sedan models, ceding the market to foreign competitors like Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai.

Despite the decline, Americans still bought 1.3 million midsize cars last year. GM sold just over 130,000 Malibus in 2023, making it the third best-selling Chevrolet model. "The midsize sedan was it for so long," said Jessica Caldwell, director of industry insights at Edmunds.com Inc. "Then crossovers arrived, and that sort of was the writing on the wall for a lot of midsize sedans, and cars in general, as well, just the popularity of the crossovers."

The Malibu's exit will result in changes at GM's factory in Kansas City, Kansas, which currently produces the sedan alongside the Cadillac XT4 small SUV. The plant will stop making the Malibu in November and undergo a $390 million retooling to produce a new version of the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle. Production of the redesigned Bolt is set to begin in late 2025.

The end of Malibu production will likely lead to layoffs at the Kansas City plant until it starts building cars again. Nearly 2,200 people work at the factory, which will undergo one of the most significant changes to its assembly line in decades as it shifts to electric vehicle production. UAW Local 31 President Dontay Wilson acknowledged the short-term impact but believes the change will secure the plant's future, saying, "We are positive about the future of Local 31. This is not something that we're looking at as a death sentence by no sense of the imagination."

The discontinuation of the Chevrolet Malibu marks a significant shift in the American automotive landscape. With the Malibu's exit, an iconic and affordable family sedan will no longer be available from Detroit's Big Three automakers. As the industry continues to evolve and prioritize electric vehicles, the Malibu's absence will be felt by many American families who relied on its accessibility and dependability for generations.

Key Takeaways

  • General Motors discontinues Chevrolet Malibu, ending an iconic era.
  • Last affordable family sedan from Detroit's Big Three automakers.
  • Shift to electric vehicles and SUVs may decrease accessibility and affordability.
  • GM's Kansas City plant to retool for electric vehicle production.
  • Malibu's exit marks a significant shift in the American automotive landscape.