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GM Discontinues the Popular Chevy Malibu to Make Room for its EV Line

Updated: May 31


 

The Chevrolet Malibu, a staple of American automotive culture, is heading for the junkyard. The decision comes as General Motors (GM) shifts its focus to electric vehicles (EVs) and sport utility vehicles (SUVs). The Malibu, while never as brazen as the Camaro or as powerful as the Impala, has been a reliable presence on American roads for decades. As the last midsize car produced by the Detroit automaker, its discontinuation marks the end of an era and highlights GM's commitment to a more sustainable electric future.


Malibu Classic emblem

A brief history of the Malibu


The Chevrolet Malibu first hit the roads in the 1960s as part of Chevrolet's Chevelle line, quickly becoming a favorite among American families. Its reliability and practical design made it a mainstay on American roads throughout the 1970s, with its versatility highlighted by its use as a patrol car by police departments nationwide.


For decades, it was the symbol of the American middle-class dream. It was the car you could trust for daily commutes, family road trips, and everything in between. Its strength was its simplicity—offering reliable transportation without the frills—a strength that resonated with a broad audience at a time when Americans were content with straightforward, gas-powered sedans.


Although GM halted production in 1983, the Malibu was reintroduced in 1997, marking the beginning of its modern era. Initial reviews of the relaunched model mixed—with some critics not entirely impressed by its simplicity anymore—however, the Malibu’s straightforward appeal still resonated with its intended audience. Over its lifespan, it sold over 10 million units, cementing its place in automotive history.


More than just a popular badge on the road, the Malibu also carved out a definite space for itself in popular culture. From Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction," where a red 1964 Malibu plays a key role, to the 2011 film "Drive," where a customized gray 1973 Malibu Coupe is driven by Ryan Gosling, the Malibu was only ever one step away from needing its own Hollywood agent.


The electric effect


The Chevrolet logo on a car seat

The Malibu's departure reflects the broader market trend away from traditional sedans towards SUVs and electric vehicles (EVs). In 2023, midsize cars accounted for only 8% of new vehicle sales in the U.S., a stark contrast to 22% in 2007.


Despite GM's efforts to revive interest through redesigns, such as the 2015-2016 model featuring a lighter 1.5-liter engine and jeweled LED headlights, the sales figures continued to decline. GM sold just over 130,000 Malibus in 2023, 8.5% fewer than in 2022. This decline underlines the changing nature of the automotive market, where versatility and sustainability are increasingly prioritized.


GM’s electric future


General Motors' decision to discontinue the Malibu is a key part of its broader strategy to transition to electric vehicles (EVs). The company's factory in Kansas City, which currently produces the Malibu, will cease its production in November. Following this, the plant will undergo a $390 million retooling to manufacture a new version of its EUV (electric utility vehicle), the Chevrolet Bolt.


With GM aiming to have millions of EVs on the road as soon as possible, they are positioning themselves to develop, engineer, and manufacture EVs across various styles and price points. Additionally, they are quickly gaining a competitive advantage in key areas such as battery technology, software, vehicle integration, manufacturing, and customer experience.



Ultium Battery System

The company’s ‘Ultium’ technology range represents a major breakthrough in electrification, with battery pack costs nearly 40 percent lower than those in the original Chevrolet Bolt EV. GM anticipates that second-generation Ultium packs will cost almost 60 percent less than current batteries. This versatile platform will serve as the foundation for a wide range of vehicles—from mass-market to high-performance—all utilizing a single, common cell and interchangeable propulsion components.


With its practical design and competitive pricing, the Bolt EUV aims to make electric vehicles more accessible to a broader audience, aligning with GM's vision of reducing the environmental impact of transportation.


So long Malibu


A California road at sunset

The Chevrolet Malibu's journey from a popular midsize sedan to a symbol of changing times is a poignant reminder of the automotive industry's evolution. Its departure marks the end of an era but also heralds the beginning of a new chapter focused on sustainability and innovation. As GM moves forward with its ambitious plans for electric vehicles, the Malibu badge will be consigned to appearing in history books and on vintage T-shirts. 


Which is perhaps where it belongs now. The simplicity and reliability that once were the hallmarks of American cars have given way to the need for a greener more electrified future, with GM intent on being at the forefront of this movement. While there’s little doubt that Pulp Fiction’s Vincent Vega would definitely have lost some of his charm if he’d pulled up at the lights in a silent EV that wasn’t much bigger than a roller skate, there are more important issues at stake here, even for dancing hitmen.



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