Home » The Last Affordable Gas-Powered American Sedan Dies This Year

The Last Affordable Gas-Powered American Sedan Dies This Year

Tmd Malibu 2
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Americans didn’t invent the car, we just made the car better, just like we did with cinema, basketball, and buffets. Henry Ford democratized car ownership with the Model T, and this country experienced a long run of great, gas-powered sedans. That’s over, as GM will finally end production of the last actual internal combustion sedan sold in America by any American car brand.

That’s right, the Chevy Malibu–the 5th best thing you can rent from any Enterprise in the Phoenix area–will see its long production run come to an end this year. Why? To make room for electric crossovers. Welcome to the future.

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The future is arguably worse in England, as Ford is threatening to limit the number of gas-powered cars because of EV mandates and a desire to be profitable. That’s still better than the prospect for Chinese cars in the United States, where the government is bandying around the idea of a ban. And, finally, Uncle Sam is looking into Tesla for all matter of serious crimes.

RIP Malibu

2024 Malibu
Source: GM

I was tempted to write that the death of the Malibu this year marked the death of the gas-powered American car, but there are American cars. Chevy is still building Corvettes, Ford is still building Mustangs, and… oh, actually, that’s it. Huh.

Did you even know the Malibu was still in production? I sort of forgot until I saw a story in the Detroit Free Press pointing this out:

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General Motors (GM.N), said Wednesday it will end production of its gasoline-powered Chevrolet Malibu car later this year in order to produce new electric vehicles.

GM has sold more than 10 million Malibus since 1964 worldwide and will end production in November. The Detroit automaker is investing $390 million at its Kansas assembly plant to build next-generation Chevrolet Bolt EVs. GM halted production of the prior generation Bolt in December.

That’s it. No more affordable sedans for the moment. Ford’s abandoned the Focus, Fusion, and Taurus. Buick’s lineup is all crossover. Lincoln’s lineup is all crossover. Stellantis ended production of the Charger and 300C. There’s the Tesla, but the company has unfortunately abandoned its V8-powered Model S-X and that’s hardly affordable. This will make the Cadillac CT4 the most affordable American-built, gas-powered sedan, but at $35k starting it’s $10k more than the starting price of the Malibu.

If you want a reasonably affordable sedan the 2024 Chevy Malibu is it! The car was updated in 2024 and the little graphic really gives away why the car was built at all:

2024 Malibu Build Info

You get a new color and you get rear park assist for “non-fleet models.” How many non-fleet human beings bought a Malibu?

If you miss sedans you don’t need to worry too much because this shall only be but a brief lacuna, a pause, a temporary void. Next year you’ll get the 2025 Dodge Charger, which is an American sedan (well, it’s a fastback type thing). Otherwise, your only options will be electric cars like the Cadillac Celestiq and the Tesla Model S.

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Of course, non-American automakers will happily sell you a sedan. So if you can’t get a new Malibu you can console yourself with a 2025 Toyota Camry.

Ford Would Rather Sell Fewer Gas Cars Than Lose Money

Ft Conf
Source: Martin Sander

Ford Europe came out swinging yesterday amidst the confusing, contradictory signals it’s getting from the UK government.

Here’s what Martin Sander, GM Ford Model e Europe/CEO Ford Werke GmbH, told the Financial Times during a summit they hosted this week:

He told a Financial Times summit that weak sales meant the company’s only option to avoid crippling fines under the UK’s new electric vehicle quota rules was to divert sales to other countries.

“We can’t push EVs into the market against demand. We’re not going to pay penalties. We are not going to sell EVs at huge losses just to buy compliance. The only alternative is to take our shipments of [engine] vehicles to the UK down and sell these vehicles somewhere else,” he told the FT’s Future of the Car Summit in London.

He added: “I don’t know if consumers in the UK would like seeing [engine vehicle] prices going up.”

The current government is a little wishy-washy on the EV thing, but it’s not clear how long this government will be in place. Currently, automakers in England have to sell a certain percentage of EVs (22% this year) or pay a penalty. Rather than sell more EVs, it sounds like Ford is considering just selling fewer gas-powered cars to make up the difference.

Is this an idle threat or a real thing? I’m not sure, but Ford is dramatically reducing its gas-powered offerings in the UK so it does make some sense. The quickest way to get a numerator to do what you want is to change the denominator.

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That being said, Sander did say that he still thinks EVs are the end goal, even if it’s going to take a little longer. Or, as Sander put it in a LinkedIn post:

My optimistic message might surprise some: Ford has been in the market for 120 years, and we plan to be in the market in 120 years. So we have to compete and become ever more efficient. Uncertainty is part of the business now. We have to embrace it and enjoy it!

Uncertainty! A thing all business owners enjoy.

No American Government Is Going To Let Chinese Cars Happen

Byd Dealer 6
Source: Tycho/The Autopian

Americans have been buying and driving Chinese-built cars for a while. Chinese parts seep into everything. But a Chinese brand? That is a bridge too far, apparently.

The Trump Administration put in a 27.5% tariff on Chinese cars and President Joe Biden was happy to keep that going. Back in February, the Biden Administration doubled down on the growing anti-Chinese car sentiment by saying it would do, uh, something.

Courtesy of Reuters, we’ve got a slightly better idea of what that might mean:

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The U.S. could take “extreme action” and ban Chinese connected vehicles or impose restrictions on them, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Wednesday, in the first indication a ban could be on the table after a national security investigation.

The Commerce Department is reviewing public comments that were due by April 30, Raimondo told Reuters, on a probe the Biden administration launched in February into whether Chinese vehicle imports pose national security risks.

“We have to digest all the data and then figure out what action that we want to take,” Raimondo said without detailing a timeline. “We could take extreme action, which is to say no Chinese connected vehicles in the United States or look for mitigation” including safeguards, guardrails or other requirements.

There’s a bit of realpolitik here as we’ve already seen with Chinese-made cars in Europe. America’s relationship with China isn’t great at the moment, but it’s not terrible, and I could see a Biden administration merely putting in ‘guardrails’ in exchange for some help isolating Russia.

Federal Prosecutors Looking Into Whether Or Not Tesla Did A Wire Fraud

221026151430 Elon Musk Entering Twitter Hq 1026 Screenshot
Screenshot: CNN

Even I get a little mixed up over the various legal actions that Tesla is mixed up in at any moment. The company’s got more probes than a ’90s Ford dealer.

This time it’s the Justice Department looking into whether or not Tesla “committed wire fraud, which involves deception in interstate communications, by misleading consumers about its driver-assistance systems, the sources said. They are also examining whether Tesla committed securities fraud by deceiving investors, two of the sources said.”

In case you were curious, the Justice Department’s investigation shouldn’t be confused with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s investigation over similar issues.

What I’m Listening To While Writing TMD

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This game on the radio this morning and I got to explain The Blue Album to my daughter, which was fun. Also, fun fact, drummer Patrick Wilson is a car guy!

The Big Question

What was the last American sedan you owned? Would you buy another one? If you’ve never owned an American sedan have you owned… any sedan?

 

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Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
10 days ago

My summer daily is a 2006 Jaguar XJ8, and we just replaced my wife’s 2009 G6 with a Kia K5. She wanted a sedan, and I was steering her toward the Malibu since it was going to be most like her G6 that she loved. But then I discovered the current Malibu has a CVT and that was that. Too bad, because it looks pretty in red.

The K5 is a nice car, in that it has actual gauges, a ton of features, and the touchscreen is limited to the infotaiment. It still has actual knobs for the HVAC. Also that warranty was a big selling point for my wife.

Personally I prefer a sedan over any SUV, the OEMs long since convinced the public that SUVs have more room and I’ve yet to find any actual proof of this.

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
11 days ago

“To make room for electric crossovers.”

That’s stretch, considering Hertz and Sixt losing so much money due to the steep devaluation and lacklustre demand for the second-hand electric vehicles. Not to mention Ford losing billions of dollars on its failed F-Series Lightning. While we’re at it, more and more choir of manufacturers are backtracking their “optimistic” plan to go all electric by 2030 or so.

Jacob Tenney
Jacob Tenney
11 days ago

The quickest way to get a numerator to do what you want is to change the denominator.

Just needed to acknowledge your wonderful little quip there, that’s all. 🙂

Peter Andruskiewicz
Peter Andruskiewicz
11 days ago

Wow, a whole lot of drama over the death of the Malibu… What about the Cadillac CT4 & CT5 – those are still american-brand sedans. The Tesla Model 3? Talk about some unfounded hand-wringing, and all over a body style that just isn’t so popular anymore because it’s less useful than a hatchback/hatchback-on-stilts/crossover.

As for the question – the closest I can come is a 2006 Saab 9-3 2.0T, 6-speed. At the time it was made, GM owned Saab and it was somewhat platform mates with the Malibu & Pontiac G6. That was a great car, but the wagon version (which I replaced it with after 200k miles) was better. I can’t see buying another one, at least not actively seeking one out specifically because of a trunk vs a hatch.

Last edited 11 days ago by Peter Andruskiewicz
Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 days ago

My first car was a 2000 Pontiac Grand Am. Fun car, but it did have all the fiddly bits that broke before it was, like a gas gauge that was getting iffy and electric windows that were doing GM things. It got totaled when a high school kid in a pickup absolutely had to make his turn at all costs, pulled directly in front of me and hit the brakes. 🙁 Gone too soon.

We had a Cadillac Sedan de Ville and Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight before that. I love broughams, but I don’t love GM’s build quality on some things. Newer GMs seem better, I hope? Then again, the interim car between the Grand Am and the Lancer I have now was an Altima, which sucked so hard that I’d like to find wherever it ended up after we traded it in and launch that unreliable heap into the sun for good measure. (Provided it isn’t already a toaster. That’s the fate it deserves: destruction.) The GM sedans would get shabby around the edges and have little components not work. Meanwhile, the Altima’s engine was the part that didn’t work worth a damn.

I still daily the Lancer and frankly, I don’t want a crossover unless I have a lower-down car to hoon around. I’ll probably get a Cayenne at some point, but having that take the Lancer’s place puts the onus on my race cars to work more often if I want to goof off at the track, and yeah. As it is right now, I can just rip on the Lancer when I’m bored and both of my fun cars aren’t cooperating. Mitsu doesn’t have anything for me anymore.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
11 days ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

There are times I long for a Pontiac, solely for the carefree IDGAF!ness of them.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
7 days ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

GM could use a fun brand again. They’ve become kinda stodgy outside of the Corvette and its trucks, and even there, they’re not getting the headlines of, say, Raptors or TRXes. A lot of anonymous commuters, old-people cars, and rental car fare.

Give me excitement. I want to drive excitement. A performance-oriented brand is the one thing they’re really lacking. They kept Buick for China, and now China has way less interest in our cars. I want Pontiac back. Give us Pontiac back you cowards.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
7 days ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Give us ALL the Azteks!

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
11 days ago

“What was the last American sedan you owned?”

My Honda Accord, built in Ohio by Americans. 18 yo and still going strong!

“Would you buy another one?”

Yes if this one ever actually dies. Preferably PHEV

“If you’ve never owned an American sedan have you owned… any sedan?”

Um, yeah.

Last edited 11 days ago by Cheap Bastard
Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 days ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Heh, I was about to say—the Big Three may not be making them, but the reasonably priced, American-made sedan is alive and well under other marques.

WhoDey Buckeye
WhoDey Buckeye
11 days ago

I still own two American sedans. My daily driver is a 2019 Cadillac CTS-V. There is nothing better for cruising down the highway or empty midwest country where I do the majority of my driving than a nice American luxury sedan with plenty of power, a luxurious interior and Cadillac suspension to give it a smooth ride.

I also own a 1960 Lincoln Continental that I mainly use as a weekend cruiser and cruise in ride.

Until about 2 years ago I also had a 1996 Chevy Impala that I had owned for about 15 years but my 17 year old nephew talked me into selling it to him so that he’d have a cool car to drive for his senior year of high school and now to college.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
11 days ago

“whether Chinese vehicle imports pose national security risks.”

Like what? Frunks packed with suicide bomb toting NK terrorists infected with Covid 19?

Or just cheap, reliable cars that some Americans might want to buy and American manufacturers refuse to make hoping to force those cheapskates to take out a crushing loan on one of their bloated, overpriced whales.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
11 days ago

1990 Fleetwood Brougham. Black with the vinyl top and a grey crushed velour interior. Fantastic machine.

Marques Dean
Marques Dean
11 days ago

Last American sedan I owned was a 2013 Ford Fusion SE with the 1.6 liter EcoBoost engine and a 6-speed manual.
While I initially liked the car,problems started rearing its ugly head,to the point where ultimately Ford did a vehicle buyback. Mine had numerous electrical problems including the instrument panel malfunctioning-the speedometer needle would bury itself even though the car would be traveling 55 mph,it lost power because the hose to the turbocharger came loose. Plus it had 3 recalls-2 of them involving the EcoBoost engine (lack of coolant circulation,engine overheating and fire). The other recall involved the steering wheel coming loose.
The electrical gremlins alone and the documented repeated attempts to repair them (car spent more time in the shop than on the road) made the car eligible for Lemon Law/Buyback about a year later.

G.A. Miller
G.A. Miller
11 days ago

With the Charger gone and now the Malibu, I don’t know what in town Atlantans will drive anymore.

Marques Dean
Marques Dean
10 days ago
Reply to  G.A. Miller

Well there’s the Toyota Camry or the Nissan Altima but the Altima is supposed to be discontinued next year as Nissan transitions to all electric vehicles.

Chronometric
Chronometric
11 days ago

I’ve never owned an American sedan but I have owned American 2-door cars, a ’67 Corvair in high school, a ’72 Pontiac Ventura (Nova) in college, an ’84 Dodge Daytona Turbo at my first job, and then recently a ’64 Corvair that I drive daily. American cars are a great value. They are reliable if maintained and cheap to acquire and operate. True to their Midwest roots, what they lack in sophistication and style they make up for in down-to-earth honesty and practicality.

Untrue to my Midwestern roots, my next new vehicle will not be an American sedan but probably an Asian PHEV CUV as a family hauler.

Turbo Quattro CS
Turbo Quattro CS
12 days ago

1984 Oldsmobile Cutless. With crushed velour seats and a vinyl top.

Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
12 days ago

An employee of mine got a 2019 Malibu as an insurance rental when a tree branch fell on his 2018 Honda Civic sedan. I was impressed that it seemed like a pretty decent car. Much nicer than his crappy Civic. I used to be a huge Civic fan back when, but that thing was a penalty box.
The sedan market is starting to look like the minivan market. The Americans abandon it for trucks and the Japanese and Koreans happily continue to offer solid models for reasonable prices. There some kind of lesson in this.

BOSdriver
BOSdriver
12 days ago

After growing up driving domestic sedans (Delta 88, LaSabre, Bonneville, Intrigue, etc plus full size Chevy van and Astro), drive a Grand Prix GT coupe, Cadillac CTS sport/lux, Passat TDI SE (US built), Sonata PHEV Limited (Korea) and now Sonata N Line (US built). Even as a tall guy I have enjoyed them all. I have extensive time in some CUV/SUVs but still enjoy the sportier feel of a sedan. All that being said, the next likely ride will be a slightly larger 5 seater, maybe a Blazer EV or CX70/90 while I need slightly more room for larger kids in a carpool for now. Hope to go back to something sportier after, as long as something I like exists.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
12 days ago

OEMs: “we’re not making sedans because they don’t sell.”
Also OEMs: only make the Malibu, Charger, and 300 and leave them unchanged for 15 years

Last edited 12 days ago by Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
12 days ago

Does a Geo Prizm count as an American sedan?

I’ve also owned an Accord and a Benz. I like the way sedans look, but a trunk is still the least good way to store cargo in a vehicle. A hatchback or wagon tailgate are far superior.

Marques Dean
Marques Dean
11 days ago

Seeing as how the Geo (later Chevrolet) Prizm were built at the NUMMI plant in Fremont,California,it would probably qualify as an American sedan. Even though it was based on the Toyota Corolla at the time.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
11 days ago
Reply to  Marques Dean

The engine block said Toyota on it. 😀

Marques Dean
Marques Dean
10 days ago

Yup. Same vehicle,just slightly restyled. All the reliability but none of the guilt.LOL

Marques Dean
Marques Dean
10 days ago

Also,to be fair for the past decade and a half (maybe more) Toyota has been building Camrys at their Georgetown,Kentucky plant-and most of those have more American made parts than what Ford,GM and Chrysler cranked out!

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
12 days ago

> The company’s got more probes than a ’90s Ford dealer.

Chef’s kiss

Dottie
Dottie
12 days ago

Last sedan I had was a Ford Focus from that short lived US only 2nd gen. Besides the 4 speed auto and ok styling, it was pretty roomy given the size and handled well for an econobox since it was so light. Would I buy another? I actually almost did (2 door with a manual) as a winter car, but I ended up spending a little more for a roomier, lower mile Astra instead.

Uninformed Fucknugget
Uninformed Fucknugget
12 days ago

Does this mean my 2019 fleet spec Malibu is now a collector item?

BigThingsComin
BigThingsComin
12 days ago

Weezer’s high-water mark!

Bob
Bob
12 days ago

Last edited 12 days ago by Bob
TDI in PNW
TDI in PNW
12 days ago

Japan, Germany and Korea seem happy to fill that void. Better cars.

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