Iconic Chevrolet Malibu Ceases Production, GM Shifts to Electric Future

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It’s an emotional farewell in the heart of Motor City. The Chevrolet Malibu, the last surviving midsize car born and bred in Detroit, is destined for the great automotive graveyard in the sky.

On Thursday, General Motors confirmed that production of the Malibu – a historic model that first revved engines way back in 1964 – will be parked, permanently. This move comes as GM, America’s largest automaker, shifts its manufacturing focus towards a greener, plugged-in future characterized by electric vehicles.

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The Malibu sedan was once a ubiquitous sight in suburban garages across America, leading the pack in the midsize car segment. Nevertheless, its popularity began to stall in the early 2000s, coinciding with the rise of the formidable Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) and the resurgence of pickup truck sales.

Fast forward to the present, and it’s the SUVs and trucks that are ruling the American automotive landscape. Ford, Chevrolet, and Ram’s full-size pickups are the current best sellers across the stars and stripes, while Toyota’s compact RAV4 SUV is topping the sales charts in the non-pickup category.

Just over a decade ago, in 2007, the midsize car category accounted for a hefty 22% of new vehicle sales in the United States, according to figures from Motorintelligence.com. Yet in a stark contrast, midsize motors made up just 8% of US new vehicle sales last year. Regardless, the category was far from forgotten, with Americans purchasing 1.3 million midsize vehicles in a market ruled by the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

As for the Malibu, GM managed to steer it to sales of around 130,000 units last year, a 8.5% decrease from 2022 totals, and a significant drop from its peak of nearly 230,000 following a sleek redesign in 2016. However, this high point – it’s worth noting – owed more to discount fleet sales than individual consumer demand.

Despite the wider downward trend, the midsize segment mounted a bit of a comeback last year, as sales accelerated, growing by almost 5%. Over its lifespan, GM has seen more than 10 million Malibus roll out across nine generations, from its 1964 starting line to its forthcoming finish.

Going forward, GM’s production plant nestled in Kansas City, Kansas, which currently assembles both the Malibu and the Cadillac XT4 small SUV, will be saying goodbye to the former in November and the latter in January. A $390 million revamp is scheduled, transforming the facility for a newer, eco-conscious incarnation of the Chevrolet Bolt – a compact electric vehicle.

The updated assembly line is expected to kick into gear in late 2025, and will be equipped to produce both the Bolt and XT4, granting the automaker greater flexibility in meeting shifts in customer demand.

Word of the Malibu’s impending exit from production lines was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. And so, the rumble of another automotive icon fades into the pages of America’s vast automotive history.