The North American motorist’s great disenchantment with the sedan has claimed a new victim. General Motors will stop building the Chevrolet Malibu, its latest affordable sedan. This model with a venerable name was launched in 1964, when GM dominated the automobile sector and the American economy.

Faced with the success of SUVs, GM’s two rivals in Detroit, Stellantis and Ford, have also virtually eliminated sedans, compacts and hatchbacks from their North American offerings.

Foreign manufacturers like Toyota, Honda and Hyundai still sell hundreds of thousands of compact sedans each year, but far fewer than 20 and 30 years ago, when the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord were among the most popular vehicles in North America. In April, Japan’s Subaru announced that it would stop building its Legacy sedan next year.

GM produces the Malibu at its plant in Fairfax, Kansas. Production will cease within a few months, then GM will retool the plant to build the new Chevrolet Bolt – an electric car – and the Cadillac XT4, a luxury SUV.

The consumer prefers SUVs and pickup trucks – taller and larger – deemed more suitable for transporting children and recreational equipment (bicycles, kayaks, etc.). Manufacturers have encouraged this trend by offering more and more SUVs, more massive and more expensive than sedans and compacts.

When it was introduced in 1964, the Malibu was a premium car. In 1968, GM added a sporty version, the Malibu SS. Shaken by foreign competition and forced to restructure, GM stopped making the Malibu in 1983, then relaunched it in 1997. But it almost always sold less well than the Camry and Accord.

In total, GM has sold more than 10 million Malibu. But sales have collapsed recently. In 2023, GM sold 130,000 Malibu, with deliveries dropping 47% in the most recent quarter. Ten years ago, GM sold about 200,000 Malibu’s a year.

In 2023, GM announced the end of the Chevrolet Camaro, a sporting icon of the 1960s and 1970s, but continued production of the Chevrolet Corvette. Its Cadillac brand builds two gasoline sedans and plans to launch an all-electric luxury sedan, the Celestiq, this year. All other GM models in the North American market are now trucks or SUVs.

In 2020, Ford removed sedans from its lineup in North America, keeping the Mustang as its sole car. Stellantis, owner of Chrysler, almost exclusively makes pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans, but the company will launch an electric version of its Dodge Challenger sports car in 2025.

The Malibu name could return, on a future electric vehicle. Manufacturers have often resurrected old model names, especially those that have left fond memories with buyers.