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.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

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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Argentine Utop
Argentine Utop
1 month ago

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

A Renault 19 diesel, base model, boring even to slowcarfast. Before that, a Fiat 128 1.3. Fun times. After that, it’s been hatches.

drummer Patrick Wilson is a car guy!

All drummers are de facto car guys. We just rock.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
1 month ago

Current sedan owner here. My current daily is an ‘06 TSX manual which I bought for cash after selling my “dirty diesel” Jetta TDI back to VW. Peak Honda in my opinion. The last American sedan I owned was a 1995 Saturn SL2 manual. That little car was great. I put lots of hard miles on her in college and she held up very well. I also did my first truly involved car repair on her – a new clutch which taught me a lot and resulted in an ER visit. I’m sad, but I’m optimistic that sedans and smaller CARS will make an eventual comeback.

DadBod
DadBod
1 month ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

my niece just inherited her grandma’s 2007 TSX. What a fantastic car, even with the auto.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
1 month ago
Reply to  DadBod

I wish I grabbed one of those first gen TSXs back in the day.

06dak
06dak
1 month ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

I looked for a TSX for my son’s first “real” car / college car in Oct 22. Unfortunately couldn’t find one that wasn’t with a ton of miles on them. He ended up with a 2007 Accord EXL 4cyl, which was very similar if a lot more boring. Only has 20k miles on it, which means it will last him until he’s 40 if he takes care of it.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
1 month ago
Reply to  06dak

Still has a K motor! Can’t beat an Accord!

Bucko
Bucko
1 month ago

My last experience with a Malibu was about a year ago. I had a run of them with Budget; this was the last straw with them. I switched to National. I’ve rented roughly 20 times with National since then and have yet to get a Malibu. The 4-cylinder Impala was simply meh, but the Malibu was base-model Hyundai bad. I won’t miss it.

Isaac Fortner
Isaac Fortner
1 month ago

The only sedan I’ve ever had was my bugeye WRX. Always had wagons, sports cars, coupes, and hatchbacks since.

I never got the appeal myself. A hatchback/wagon has loads more room for activities in the same footprint, so why not get that?

John Beef
John Beef
1 month ago

The last American sedan I owned was a Toyota Camry. It was made in America.

It’s past time to drop the nationalities of nameplates. If all we care about is where Corporate Headquarters is located, than no currently produced Stellantis product is an American car, even with a Jeep, Ram, Dodge, or Chrysler badge on it. Those haven’t been American cars since 1998, except for the 07-09 years when Cerberus owned it.

Ca Hu
Ca Hu
1 month ago

I’ve never had a sedan, don’t see the point. I have had wagons from VW, MB and BMW, a tundra, a 4runner and the pilot I have now. I would buy a midsize manual wagon again but there is nothing newer than an e61 that fits that criterion.

Ottomadiq
Ottomadiq
1 month ago

Cadillac CT4 & CT5 to the Autopian:

Am I a joke to you?

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
1 month ago
Reply to  Ottomadiq

They went and changed the headline to “affordable” American sedan. Guessing after realizing they forgot about Cadillac.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
1 month ago

I’ve never had a sedan until I bought an E90 328xi a month ago. It’s not in the best shape, but I am smitten. I don’t know if I’d get another sedan but I’m probably going to replace it with a 2 or 4 series convertible

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
1 month ago

Last “American” sedan I owned was my Chevy SS, made Down Under.

Der Foo
Der Foo
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

I looked into the Chevy SS, but the company didn’t offer Employee Pricing on it and it was just too pricey for me at the time. Still too pricey even now. I got the impression that it was only being sold in the US because of some ‘deal’ with Holden.

Last edited 1 month ago by Der Foo
Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
1 month ago
Reply to  Der Foo

That was pretty much it. Some sort of deal in Australia where they agreed to export x number of cars for a tax break (at least, that’s the story I heard).I actually somehow got one at under sticker and with a Credit Union discount at the time. Traded in my G8 for it as the SS was a manual and the G8 an automatic. The SS had a nicer interior, too.

MDMK
MDMK
1 month ago

If banning or slapping high tariffs on China-connected vehicles includes models imported from China, U.S. automakers’ lobbying arms will be busy as both the Lincoln and Buick brands would be negatively impacted. U.S. automakers needing to add affordable BEVs to their portfolio while still turning profits are surely looking at the vast array of Chinese models ready to be rebranded as Fords and GMs for import into the U.S..

Chris D
Chris D
1 month ago
Reply to  MDMK

Those cars should have oval-shaped gold stickers on the bumper that say “Made In China” on them.

The shame!

James Carson
James Carson
1 month ago

12 Chev Cruise. Tried to buy a 18 Malibu but the dealer insisted on playing dealer games. Walked across the street and bought a Honda Accord. I will likely stay with Honda and Toyota as their products are very very good.

Ottomadiq
Ottomadiq
1 month ago
Reply to  James Carson

I’ll take didn’t happen like that for 200, Ken

Last edited 1 month ago by Ottomadiq
James Carson
James Carson
1 month ago
Reply to  Ottomadiq

Is it the internet that gives you this intuition or something else?

MegaVan
MegaVan
1 month ago

My Fleetwood Brougham was my most recent sedan.

I would definitely consider a CT6 Plug-in or Platinum (with the Blackwing V8).

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
1 month ago
Reply to  MegaVan

The CT6 is an amazing car that came at the absolute worst time for sedans. I’m with you, the plug-in is a great deal if you can find one and that V8 is special

Mike B
Mike B
1 month ago

If I could afford to have a specific vehicle for just commuting, I would probably want a sedan. A friend of mine has the previous gen Malibu, I think it’s about 10 years old. He’s got 150K+ on it and hasn’t had any significant issues with. He actually just got a job with a very substantial raise but is planning on keeping the ‘Bu because he’s now 100% remote.

If I could get at least 30mpg highway, I’d consider one as a commuter.

I’ve only actually owned 1 sedan, a 98 Olds 88 my grandfather gave me. Silver with a dark blue interior and front bench. I actually dug the column shifter, and the car was insanely comfy. I averaged about 28mpg with the 3.8. I lost the brakes once, a panic stop caused a hard line to blow out, and later on the plastic intake cracking led to a motor swap. My sis needed a car at the time, so I gave the car to her and our parents footed the bill. She had it a few more years without too many issues.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mike B
JDE
JDE
1 month ago

My wife is still kicking around in a Chrysler 200S. Really it has been a reliable and efficient car as we often take it on long trips. with over 110k miles on the clock I would drive it anywhere still. I would probably buy an AWD 3.6 V6 version if it came up and I was in the market. Though, I think I would just look past it and get a G70. I kind of like the Stinger Turbo six and AWD a bit better. I did have a first gen Chrysler 300 C that was also very reliable and was sold with over 170K on the Odometer. I would have like to have another, but Chrysler stopped putting the 5.7 in front of the AWD system at some point and the 6.4 versions with a manual trans are not available either.

The Last bucket list American Sedan for me is the CTS-6 Blackwing with a manual and supercharged 6.2.

Who Knows
Who Knows
1 month ago

The US could ban Chinese “connected” vehicles? You mean the government could inadvertently open the door to someone, even if it is China, to sell “non-connected” vehicles here?

Could be ironic if the only vehicle choices for those who want a new vehicle without an internet connection in the future end up coming from China.

Chris D
Chris D
1 month ago
Reply to  Who Knows

Most likely what they mean are Chinese company vehicles, possibly assembled in Mexico from all-Chinese parts.
Most furniture from Mexico is just Chinese parts with final assembly in a maquiladora plant. China plays dirty any way they can. It appears that they read what Smokey Yunick said: “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying!”

Pneumatic Tool
Pneumatic Tool
1 month ago

Overall I have owned six sedans, four of them American (last was a 2010 Fusion Sport). My most recent purchase was a 2021 Mazda6 because it was being phased out thereafter. Yes, I like *cars*….sedans – I find them infinitely more engaging to drive than CUV/SUV/BFD (OK, I added the last one for fun).

JShaawbaru
JShaawbaru
1 month ago

The last American sedan I owned was a Lincoln LS, and I wish I hadn’t. I’m sure a nice LS is a good car, but a $1500 one is… not.

All the other sedans I’ve owned have been European (and so are 2 of the cars that shared a platform with the LS)

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago

I’ve never owned a vehicle with sedan bodystyle, American or not. It’s been mostly hatchbacks. My parents had a long run of wagons (peppered with a van, a couple hatchbacks, and one lone sedan they regret ever purchasing).

For those crying over the loss of sedans in America clearly weren’t looking at Hatchbacks which seem to have been long since been forgotten by the American market.

Andrew Bugenis
Andrew Bugenis
1 month ago

“What was the last American sedan you owned?”

Depends on how pedantic we’re being. The Volt I drive now is probably the closest I’ve ever owned, but the hatch makes it, what, a liftback?

Before that, Saturn Ion quad coupe. Four doors, technically, but a coupe in spirit. Not sure if sedan.

So you want four regular opening doors? Back to my SW2… right, that’s a wagon.

It’s not necessarily a focus on “American built,” just that I grew up with Saturns so those were my first two cars, then the Volt was intriguing enough to be where I went next. It is definitely a car focus though (while trying to avoid the plain sedan).

V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago

I’ve owned two (and still own one) Holden sedans badged as a US brand.

I owned a Mexican-built Fiesta sedan until 2022.

The last US-made US-branded sedan I owned was a 2008 Lucerne owned in 2016-17.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

I was checking to see if you’d show up here, as something you said the other week was very thought-provoking re exactly this question, and I’ve been turning it over in my mind since – that crossovers represent the actualized wish of normal buyers.

Sedans seem at heart borne from an enthusiast idea (descendants of sleek coupes which were descendants of race cars) that everyday buyers were willing to accept, but it wasn’t necessarily what they really desired.

It took offroad themed vehicles to get there, but they finally got the practical haulers they wanted.

V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

I thought about repeating my earlier statement on that topic but decided not to choose violence today.

I put a lot of stock into the idea that the “longer, lower, wider” era was the aberration, not the norm. Look at a 1900s-1940s vehicle, and the proportions are much more similar to today’s crossover than today’s sedans.

I believe that absent the oil crisis, Americans would have embraced/returned to utility vehicles much more quickly than they did. The high gas prices and downsizing of the 70s-80s kept the sedan in a place of prominence longer than it would have been otherwise. The minivan was the first nail in the coffin, and it’s pretty much been uninterrupted growth of truck and SUV market share for forty years since.

Now that hybrid powertrains and car-like amenities are available in every class of SUV/CUV, there’s really no upside to a sedan for someone who doesn’t care deeply about driving dynamics. Considering how much of the market is described by that statement, I really don’t see a mass return to sedans any time soon.

DadBod
DadBod
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

I absolutely agree, and the crossover hate is really misdirected. They are simply more practical.
You have to wonder if, in an alternate history, crossovers were the muscle cars and sports cars of their time. The Porsche 911 was shaped like a Cayenne. Today everyone would be hating on sedans for being low, cramped, and generally suckier than crossovers.

V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago
Reply to  DadBod

What really makes me confused about enthusiast complaining over this is that there are probably more luxury and performance sedans for sale now than ever.

Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Mercedes, Lexus all still have multiple sizes of sedans available. Tesla, Genesis, and Porsche have all introduced multiple sedans in the last decade or so.

Were all the whiners really going to buy a Malibu or an Impala? Were they lining up for a Fusion or Focus? Did they have their heart set on a Subaru Impreza or a Chrysler 200? The idea is frankly pretty ridiculous. People who actually buy those cars won’t notice a bit of difference in performance switching to a CUV, but they will notice how easy it is to load people and stuff, how much more space they have, and how much better they can see from a higher driving position every time they get behind the wheel.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  DadBod

> the crossover hate is really misdirected. They are simply more practical.

Thank you. The crossover bad hatememe in the car community is so vacuous and dumb.

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 month ago

Had a friend who replaced their Wrangler with a Malibu, they wished they never got rid of the Wrangler, according to them the Malibu really sucked in Great Lakes winters.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  MrLM002

They should have bought a Chevy Minneapolis instead.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
1 month ago

I thought the Malibu went fleet only a few years back, guess it only did in terms of who was actually buying them.

Autonerdery
Autonerdery
1 month ago

I’ve owned an American (California-built!) sedan—no, not a Tesla—for the last 21 years…a ’65 Corvair! If they ever made another one, sure, I’d buy it, but maybe the current Cadillacs are the closest an American automaker has gotten to a genuinely Euro-style sport sedan in the last 55 years.

RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
1 month ago

I currently own an American sedan! A Tesla Model 3!

My previous American sedan was a Saturn SL1.

I would buy both again. The Saturn was fine, but reliable. The Tesla is a cromulent transportation appliance. What both lack in soul, they gained in reliability.

Last edited 1 month ago by RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
1 month ago

My most recent American sedan was this 1937 Plymouth P4:

https://live.staticflickr.com/7011/6830618645_9c37181365_c.jpg

Before that I had owned two others, a 1959 Ford Custom 300 four-door sedan (my first car) and a 1959 Ford Galaxie four-door sedan. I’ve also owned a 1959 Ford Country Sedan, but of course with a name like that it’s actually a four-door station wagon.

I have no objection to owning another one. We’ll just see how things go.

DONALD FOLEY
DONALD FOLEY
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

My parents brought me home from the hospital in their 1937 Plymouth.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  DONALD FOLEY

Why were you in the hospital? I hope you’re OK now.

DONALD FOLEY
DONALD FOLEY
1 month ago

I was a heathy newborn, thank you.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  DONALD FOLEY

Phew

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