The combination of falling gas prices and the boomlet of higher-riding crossovers is forcing automakers to stop making certain passenger cars that don’t generate sufficient sales or profits to satisfy Wall Street or American consumers.
Last month, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said production of the Dodge Dart compact and Chrysler 200 midsize sedan would stop in the near future.
“There has been a permanent shift toward utility vehicles and pickup trucks,” Marchionne said. “And we have seen, certainly in terms of our ability to meet market demand, some severe restriction in terms of the dexterity of our manufacturing system to accomplish that end.”
In November 2009, Marchionne said, “In this market, if you don’t have a competitive midsize sedan, you’re a nobody.” Last Wednesday, Toyota said it would scrap its youth-oriented Scion brand that targeted younger consumers with quirky, sometimes cube-shape vehicles. Scion sales peaked at 173,000 in 2006, and aside from a modest resurgence in 2012, withered to 56,167 in 2015. Remaining stocks of Scion models will be sold as Toyotas for now.
Other manufacturers are shifting small and midsize car production to Mexico. Last year, Ford decided to stop building the Focus compact car and the C-Max hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid at the Michigan Assembly Plant in 2018, and move it out of the U.S., most likely to Mexico where it already builds the subcompact Fiesta and is consolidating all midsize Fusion production.