General Motors is lowering the output of the Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano small cars, which inventories have reached higher-than-normal. GM plans to idle output at its Orion Assembly plant in suburban Detroit in the weeks of Feb. 16 and April 6 to adjust supply to market demand, two people privy with the production schedule told Automotive News.
One of the sources said the company has already informed workers of the planned downtime. The production reduction comes as inventories reached their highest levels at their highest level in a year in the US -- a 127-day supply as of January 1, or 26,600 Sonics.
On the other hand, inventories of the Verano reached an 84-day supply as of January 1, or 9,800 units. The Orion site is home to around 1,800 workers. GM announced in November a plan to lay off around 160 employees at the site this month as it cuts production.
A source told Automotive News that a slowdown in the assembly line rate would cut overall output at Orion by about 16 percent, from 45 cars per hour to about 38.
According to Kelley Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer, small-car sales had on the drop even before fuel prices were declining, as more consumers choose small SUVs.
He noted that shift to small SUVs is further pushed by dropping fuel prices. GM sold 9 percent more Sonic – both in sedan and hatchback models – in the second half of 2014 to 93,518, while subcompact cars overall grew 8 percent. On the other hand, sales of the Verano dropped 4 percent, to 43,743.
The new Chevrolet Sonic sedan and five-door models are designed to exude strength, refinement and stability. While their wide, planted stance and wheels-at-the-corners proportions communicate performance, their raked body lines make them seem moving even when at a standstill.
Designers gave the new Sonic a design that makes it easily recognizable as a Chevrolet. This design includes global styling cues like dual-element grille and round rear lamps as well as aggressive details such as fender flares and motorcycle-inspired round headlamps. On the leading edge of the bonnet, a character line -- formed just above the headlamps -- flows in a sleek side profile marked by continuous body side lines, a low roofline and a high beltline. Interestingly, side mirrors -- shaped like the car itself -- seemingly disappear into the profile.
Chevrolet made sure that the sedan and five-door models of the Sonic are different from each other. The sedan features a "notchback" profile with more upscale and mature presence while the five-door model has a tight, two-box shape defined by aggressive feature lines. Since the rear door handles are inconspicuously placed in the "C"-pillar area, the five-door Sonic looks like a three-door hatchback at first glimpse. On the rear, the five-door model sports exposed taillamps inspired by those on a motorcycle.
The Sonic comes with a number of details that boost its quality, such as chrome grille surrounds and matte black honeycomb grille inserts (all models). It rides on alloy wheels that are available in different sizes, like 17-inch rims.