To demonstrate the new Chevy Malibu’s global aspirations, Chevrolet unveiled it simultaneously at the Shanghai and New York auto shows.
Riding on a modified version of the Buick Regal’s architecture, the Malibu is stunning with its Bentley Mulsanne profile, ultra-aero front facia, quad tail lamps, and square gauges lifted from the Camaro.
You’ll recognize it as a Chevrolet immediately, but the technology under the skin is like no other.
Malibu is going to borrow something else from popular Buicks: eAssistTM technology. The system combines lithium-ion batteries with an electric motor-generator to allow regenerative braking and start-stop functionality.
In short, the car recaptures energy during braking and shuts off its engine while at rest to save gasoline. Often referred to as a “light hybrid,” eAssist-equipped cars cannot run on electricity alone.
The results are impressive. For relatively low cost and only a 65-lb. weight increase, the car gains 15 horsepower and achieves a stellar 26/38-MPG city/highway, easily making it the highest-mileage GM mid-size sedan of all time.
This technology is partly a result of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent bringing the Volt electric car to market. Another Volt feature adapted for the Malibu ECO is a lower grille that closes at higher speeds to improve aerodynamics. To put all of this in perspective, Malibu ECO can travel as many as 550 miles between fill-ups.
“The Malibu ECO is a smart choice for customers who want excellent fuel economy without the price premium of popular hybrid sedans,” said Rick Scheidt, vice president of Chevrolet marketing. “Malibu ECO exemplifies Chevrolet’s drive to use technology that delivers high-value, gas-friendly performance. In fact, the Malibu ECO delivers the fuel economy of a compact car in a midsize sedan.”
The all-new 2013 Chevy Malibu promises to be a stellar success. If gas continues to hover around $4/gallon or higher when Malibu hits the roads next spring, an incredibly high percentage of them are likely to be ECOs. While Malibu buyers may complain about gas prices, they are unlikely to gripe about their car’s ability to sip the precious stuff. Prices will be announced closer to sale, but should start well under $30k.