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GM kills Chevy Sonic, making room for Bolt EUV at company’s second all-EV plant

General Motors confirmed that it plans to end production of its Chevrolet Sonic small gas car in October. With the Sonic’s demise, gas cars will no longer be produced at GM’s Orion Township Assembly Plant near Detroit. Orion will become an all-EV plant, where the Bolt compact and Bolt EUV will be manufactured.

Megan Soule, a GM spokesperson, confirmed with Electrek that the Sonic’s days are numbered.

We notified Chevrolet dealers of our plans to end production of the Chevrolet Sonic in October, due to declining demand. This action also paves the way for the Orion Township Assembly Plant to prepare for the production of the refreshed Bolt EV and Bolt EUV, which will go into production in 2021.

With this shift, it would make Orion an all-EV manufacturing facility, with the ability to build ICE vehicles as needed in the future.

The shift to EVs at Orion would be the second Detroit-area GM plant to go all-electric – at least for a period. GM is apparently leaving the option to bring back internal combustion vehicles to Orion “as needed.” Soule confirmed that the facility will have that flexibility, but did not provide details about future vehicles that might be produced there.

The last internal-combustion car produced at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant rolled off the production line on Feb. 20. The GMC Hummer EV will start production at Detroit-Hamtramck in fall 2021. This will be followed soon after by the Origin, a self-driving people-mover unveiled by Cruise, GM’s autonomous-vehicle division.

General Motors has about a dozen EVs planned for production in the next couple of years. The company will now have two Michigan plants that exclusively produce electric vehicles. The Orion Assembly plant is 4.3 million square feet, sitting on 433 acres. Chevy has also used Orion to produce a version of the Bolt without a steering wheel for testing by Cruise.

The list of recently discontinued small Chevys now includes the Sonic, Cruze, and Volt plug-in hybrid. Introduced in 2012, the Chevrolet Sonic had its biggest year in 2014, with more than 93,000 deliveries. That number dwindled to a few thousand last year. The Sonic was discontinued in Canada in 2019.

GM released the first picture of its Buick Velite 7 Electric in June. The small crossover for the Chinese market could provide a glimpse of the upcoming Bolt EUV’s looks.

The Bolt EUV, expected in mid-2021, will use the same 66-kilowatt-hour battery as the existing Bolt model. But it will have a 3-inch longer wheelbase, about 6 inches of additional cabin room, and an SUV-like vibe. The Bolt EUV will also offer a sunroof and the Supercruise assisted-driving package.

A bigger hood will allow for a faster 11-kW charging inverter, a step up from the current Bolt’s 7.2-kW onboard charger.

Other details, like price and range, are not yet announced.

Electrek’s Take

It’s a sign of the times. Small gas cars are going away. Electric vehicles will be produced in their place.

By the end of this year, GM will have two hometown plants that are dedicated to EVs. That’s great news.

The one somber note is that General Motors is leaving the option to backtrack to gas cars at the Orion plant.

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Avatar for Bradley Berman Bradley Berman

Bradley writes about electric cars, autonomous vehicles, smart homes, and other tech that’s transforming society. He contributes to The New York Times, SAE International, Via magazine, Popular Mechanics, MIT Technology Review, and others.