Chevy Malibu may be put out to pasture sooner than expected

Ronan Glon

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Chevrolet will accelerate the Malibu's demise in a bid to mitigate the financial devastation caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent report. The sedan is now scheduled to retire in about two years.

Without citing sources, enthusiast website GM Authority reported the ax will fall on the Malibu at the end of the 2023 model year, meaning about halfway through 2022. That's two years earlier than expected; Chevrolet originally planned to give the sedan a final face-lift in 2023, and to keep it around until the 2025 model year. Ending production early will let the firm focus on better-selling and more profitable vehicles, as in, crossovers and pickups. The move will also allow it to spend more money on developing a new generation of electric vehicles.

Chevrolet hasn't commented on what the future holds for the Malibu, but we wouldn't be surprised if the report is accurate. Annual Malibu sales dropped to 131,917 units in 2019, an 8.7% decline compared to 2018. It ended the year about 35,000 units behind the Ford Fusion (which is also on its way out) but comfortably ahead of the Kia Optima. In its defense, even popular entries into the segment lost market share; Honda's Accord saw its sales drop by 8%, which is about on par with the segment's average, while the Toyota Camry declined by nearly 2%.

Nothing suggests Chevrolet will develop a 10th-generation Malibu. Officials haven't coyly hinted at the car's replacement with a thinly-veiled concept, our spies haven't spotted early development mules racking up miles on the outskirts of Detroit, and even the rumor mill — which normally works overtime — hasn't churned out a nibble of Malibu-related information. It sounds like this big sedan, which was once ubiquitous in America, is dead.

Ford made headlines when it announced plans to eliminate sedans and hatchbacks from its range, but Chevrolet is quietly following the same strategy. Cruze production ended in 2019, the Impala bit the bullet earlier in 2020, and we can't imagine the tiny Sonic (which found 13,971 buyers in 2019, less than the Corvette) will stick around for much longer. This would leave the Spark, the Camaro, the Corvette, and the Bolt as the only low-riding models in the Chevrolet range, and unverified rumors claim the first two will retire in the early 2020s as well.

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