Buick Verano to die as yet another small sedan gives way to SUVs


2016 Buick Verano Turbo

2016 Buick Verano Turbo

As General Motors' Orion Assembly Plant in Orion Township, Michigan, gains a new model to build, it will also lose one.

The Buick Verano compact sedan currently built at the plant will end production in October.

That means Orion's fate may be determined by the success of the upcoming Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car, which recently began pilot production there.

DON'T MISS: 2017 Chevy Bolt EV pre-production cars now being built (video)

Strong SUV sales caused GM to end Verano production so it could shift investment to that more profitable segment, reports The Detroit News.

Verano sales were down 11.7 percent through April compared to the first four months of 2015. Last year, sales totaled 31,886, down more than 27 percent from 2014.

In a similar move, Fiat Chrysler recently announced it would end production of the compact Dodge Dart and mid-size Chrysler 200 sedans to use the capacity to build more trucks and sport-utility vehicles.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV pre-production vehicles at Orion Township Assembly Plant, March 2016

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV pre-production vehicles at Orion Township Assembly Plant, March 2016

Production of the 2016 Verano will end this summer, with a very short 2017 model year taking the compact Buick sedan through October.

The Verano is an aging design based on the first-generation Chevrolet Cruze, which has since been replaced with a new model.

GM did introduce a new Verano in China—by far the most important global market for Buick vehicles—last year, but has no plans to bring it to the U.S.

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The end of Verano production isn't expected to affect jobs at the Orion plant, which currently employs about 1,100 workers.

The plant will primarily rely on the Chevrolet Sonic, of which almost 65,000 were sold last year, and the new all-electric Chevy Bolt EV to sustain itself.

The Chevy Sonic received an update for the 2017 model year, while the Bolt EV will begin volume production before the end of this year.

2017 Chevrolet Sonic

2017 Chevrolet Sonic

But the subcompact Sonic is based on an aging design, and remains vulnerable to low gas prices and the popularity of SUVs of all sizes over smaller passenger cars.

GM recently chose to shift a $245 million investment for an unnamed new model from Orion to its Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kansas.

It's widely believed that model is a small crossover for Cadillac.

MORE: Chevy Bolt EV To Be Sold In Europe As Opel Ampera-E Electric Car

GM also hasn't yet confirmed that Orion will build the Opel Ampera-E, a rebadged Bolt EV that will be sold in Europe.

The Ampera name was first used on a rebadged version of the first-generation Chevy Volt.

That model was in fact built alongside the Volt, at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck plant, and Orion is widely expected to export Ampera-e cars to Europe.

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