An all-electric production version of the FNR-XE concept? Count us in.
General Motors is reportedly developing a new all-electric, Ultium platform-based sedan for its Chevrolet brand in China and it could arrive stateside at a later date as a successor to the aging Malibu. The report comes from GM Authority based on comments GM President Mark Reuss made during a recent Investor Day presentation held in China. It's still in a relatively early stage of development but Reuss sounds pretty excited about it.
"This one's coming a little bit later, and this is a Chevrolet version of it. It's a 'Car-D' primarily for the Chinese market, and we'll see the desirability as we clinic this," he said. "It's a little bit further out, but this is a pretty dramatic low-roof, sedan-like proportion that we're just beginning to design and engineer. It's really quite a statement from a design standpoint, but we'll see how it goes."
The bow tie brand unveiled just last month an electric sedan concept called the FNR-XE (pictured). It's possible this is a preview of what GM has in mind, and we like what we're seeing, especially that "low-roof," wide stance, and overall edgy styling. We noted at the time we saw some Camaro-like design elements in the front fascia and those turbine-style wheels were an excellent choice.
The Chevy Malibu, now in its ninth generation, launched for the 2016 model year and received a mid-life refresh for 2019. The hybrid variant was dropped in 2020 because of disappointing sales. Since then, the Malibu remains on sale and is now Chevy's only sedan following the discontinuation of the Cruze and Impala. No major changes are expected for the upcoming 2023 model year, and we wouldn't be surprised to see the mid-size sedan end its production run very soon.
But the fact that Chevy is considering an Ultium-based EV replacement is definitely a good sign that the sedan body style isn't dead. It just needs to be redefined for the electrification era and GM has all of the tools to make that happen. The question, however, is whether North American customers will be interested. Sedans continue to remain very popular in China but far less so in the US where crossovers rule.
There was also a past rumor that Chevy is working on an EV muscle sedan as a potential Camaro replacement but we haven't learned anything more about that for quite some time.
The Malibu's possible EV successor isn't due in China until late 2024 at the earliest, so don't expect anything in the US until at least 2025 or 2026.