Your Aunt’s Cute-Ute Has Sent Chevy Sonics Sagging

Crossovers take their toll on the little guy.

byClifford Atiyeh|
Draper 54500 Rubber Wheel Chock


Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty

The fastest-growing car segment in the country belongs to compacts, but the biggest movers under that broad umbrella aren’t your average Civic or Fit. Instead they’re cute, high-riding crossovers that are even smaller than the Escapes and CR-Vs crowding American highways. Unfortunately, they’re also partially why about 500 General Motors employees are on the move.

According to Automotive News, GM had to make shift cuts at its Orion Township plant in Detroit, which builds the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic sedan and hatch along with the slightly larger Buick Verano sedan. The plant had already seen its production rate cut by a fifth and had been idled for several weeks this year. Instead of two work shifts, there will be only one.

Over all, small crossovers represent the second-fastest growing vehicle class in the country, with a 43-percent increase this year through September, according to WardsAuto. Only mid-size pickup trucks are growing faster, aided and abetted by the Chevy Colorado and refreshed Toyota Tacoma. As for small cars like the Sonic, that segment has declined six percent in the same time.

But the “vast majority” of GM employees will be offered new jobs at Detroit-Hamtramck—the facility building the Chevrolet Volt, Malibu, Impala and upcoming Cadillac CT6—or elsewhere. GM told AN that it would “adjust plant production capacity to align with market demand.”

And that market, for good or bad, has spoken.