GM, Ford to drop 4 car nameplates, report says
General Motors and Ford Motor Co. plan to discontinue four slow-selling car models, including the venerable Ford Taurus sedan, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
GM will stop production of the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic by as early as this year, and is planning to discontinue the Chevrolet Impala in the next few years, the Journal said. It also reported that Ford will stop making the Fiesta small car for the U.S. market by as early as next year, and discontinue the Taurus, once the top-selling car in America.
Overall, U.S. sales of new cars are down nearly 11 percent this year and are on track to drop for the fifth straight year in 2018.
Automotive News, in its annual Future Product series last summer, reported the Sonic, Impala, Fiesta and Taurus were widely expected to be discontinued at the end of their current product cycles.
The Detroit News in July also reported that Ford and GM were looking to stop production of those vehicles.
"Nothing formal to report today," Steve Majoros, marketing director for Chevrolet's cars and crossovers, told reporters on Wednesday when asked about the Journal report. "But I would say for all three of those products [Sonic, Impala and Volt] we are committed to those. They're a part of our portfolio today, they'll be a part of our portfolio here in the future.
"Every car we have in our portfolio plays a role, every car's important and you know the only way we're going to stay the fastest-growing brand is to keep providing the vehicles that people want. So they're a part of our portfolio and they're going to continue."
U.S. sales of the Sonic have fallen 21 percent to 5,983 vehicles this year while Impala deliveries have plunged 36 percent to 14,067. Taurus deliveries are off 25 percent this year in an overall large car market that has shrunk 12 percent.
The Taurus debuted in 1985 but was dropped in 2006 in favor of the Five Hundred sedan. Former Ford CEO Alan Mulally revived the Taurus name for the 2008 model year.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has already pared the Dodge Dart small car and Chrysler 200 midsize sedan from its U.S. product portfolio to better focus on light trucks.
The move to drop car nameplates comes at a time when U.S. consumers are increasingly shunning sedans and coupes in favor of crossovers, pickups and SUVs.
Last month, Ford disclosed plans to pad its product portfolio with more light trucks, and add more hybrid and pure electric vehicles. Ford late last year began telling suppliers it is ending North American production of the Fusion midsize sedan, which Automotive News reported in December.
“As we have said, by 2020 trucks and utilities – including their electrified versions – are going to be almost 90 percent of our volume. Passenger cars, including Fiesta and Taurus, remain an important part of our lineup,” Ford spokesman Mike Levine said in a statement Wednesday, in response to a question about the Fiesta and Taurus.
Ford’s Lincoln luxury brand last week unveiled a production preview of the all-new Aviator crossover that’s expected to be built at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant next year, which also builds its sibling Explorer crossover and the Taurus.
Last month, GM unveiled a revamped luxury Sierra pickup, intensifying the battle among the Detroit 3 for fat profits at the top end of a highly lucrative segment.
Automotive News and Reuters contributed to this report.
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