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2008 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid - Chevy's first hybrid car

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Old 01-28-13, 05:02 AM   #31
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Most prospective Malibu buyers at Castle Chevrolet in suburban Chicago quickly decide that they don't want to pay nearly $3,000 more for the Eco mild-hybrid version.

"For most people, it's hard to justify the extra money based on the extra fuel economy" of a combined 3 mpg more than the base model, says Jeff Tuckman, the dealership's inventory manager. "You've got the base LS model sitting next to it that's just as nice and luxurious."

It's a problem flagged by many Chevy dealers. They say that the Malibu Eco doesn't offer a big enough fuel economy boost to sway buyers to choose it over 1 of the other 2 engine types: a 2.5-liter engine or a 2.0-liter turbocharged version.

That represents a broader challenge for General Motors, which is making a big bet on its mild-hybrid technology, called eAssist. GM is likely to deploy the system across much of its lineup in the next few years. The company has targeted annual global sales of 500,000 electrified vehicles by 2017; the vast majority of those would be mild hybrids.

GM engineers are working on a next-generation eAssist system that would offer a more compelling jump in fuel economy and likely would be offered on some large vehicles, including crossovers. They won't say when it will arrive or how much additional mpg lift it might deliver.

"We continue to work on improvements to get the efficiency up and the costs down," says Pamela Fletcher, GM's executive chief engineer for electric vehicles.

So far the Malibu is GM's highest-volume car to come equipped with eAssist. It's also offered on the Buick LaCrosse and comes as the base powertrain on the Buick Regal. It will be offered on the redesigned Chevy Impala, due out by late spring.

To save fuel, eAssist combines a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine with a menu of technologies, including stop-start, regenerative braking, a lithium ion battery and a small electric motor to assist the gasoline engine under certain conditions, such as when merging into highway traffic.

The Malibu Eco gets 25 mpg in city driving and 37 on the highway, compared with a 22/34 rating for the 2.5-liter model.

GM says the take rate for the Eco model is 8% of total Malibu sales, below GM's initial forecast of 10%.

Says a New Jersey Chevy dealer who didn't want his name used: "The fuel economy difference from the other models isn't so great that buyers are saying, 'I'll choose a smaller trunk and pay more money.'" The system's battery is packaged in the trunk and takes up about 3 cubic feet.

Dealers don't mind when customers choose a different Malibu model. More problematic for GM, analysts say, is that the Malibu Eco's fuel economy compares poorly to other options in the mid-sized sedan segment, even nonhybrids.

The Nissan Altima, for example, uses a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engine to get better fuel economy than the Malibu Eco, 27/38 mpg, and costs nearly $4,000 less. The Toyota Camry hybrid gets 43/39 mpg and stickers for about $850 more than the Malibu Eco.

"Getting the consumer to embrace the incremental gains in fuel efficiency from the mild-hybrid system can be problematic given all the improvements that have been made" on regular gasoline engines, says Alan Baum, a Detroit-area automotive analyst who tracks electrified vehicle sales. "I think GM knows they've got to improve" eAssist's mpg numbers.

You can reach Mike Colias at mcolias@crain.com.

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Old 01-28-13, 10:23 AM   #32
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"Getting the consumer to embrace the incremental gains in fuel efficiency from the mild-hybrid system can be problematic given all the improvements that have been made" on regular gasoline engines, says Alan Baum, a Detroit-area automotive analyst who tracks electrified vehicle sales. "I think GM knows they've got to improve" eAssist's mpg numbers.
Sums it up
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Old 01-28-13, 02:13 PM   #33
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Not sure what GM is trying to accomplish. "Mild hybrids" never do well and this is GM's strategy. Comparing to the tech and the resulting MPG found in Toyota & Ford, you gotta go full hybrid or go home.

All of their real tech is in one basket (Volt), but doesn't sell either because of cost.

Right now Toyota and Ford have the only hybrid formula that sells. Producing mid-size cars and crossovers that get 40-50 MPG. And as we can see, full electrics still aren't catching on and won't (as long as they're unaffordable and short ranged).
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Old 01-29-13, 07:41 PM   #34
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Why wouldn't I just buy a 38 MPG Hwy Altima?
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Old 01-29-13, 08:37 PM   #35
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in reviews, regular malibu gets better mpg than mild-hybrid one.

lol.
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Old 01-29-13, 08:37 PM
 
 
 
 
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