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According to Ed Peper (pronounced "Peeper") General Manager of Chevrolet Division of GM, Chevy is on quite a roll. Outside the US, the brand is growing by double digits in many markets, and the Chevy line is holding its own against competition in the US. While it is true that GM and Chevy are talking green every chance they get, one finds it hard to forget history. GM and Chevy are synonymous with the high energy lifestyle we are trying to wean ourselves from. GM invested in and out of the EV-1, preferring to destroy what cars they built rather than leave them in the hands of their users as evidence that, indeed, they once existed at all.

Continues after the jump.

[Source: International Motor Press Association]



Now, about the Malibu: Mr. Peper announced that Chevy was going to begin a strong advertising push this week - on the web, on television and in the printed media. They have certainly followed through on that. The car is being built in Kansas and, as looks go, it does seem like a modern, attractive, even "up-market" model starting at $20,000. It is a well-proportioned vehicle in the classic, late 20th century style. While mentioning Chevy's multi-faceted alternative fuel and efficiency approach - E85, fuel cells, hybrids, pure electric, and fuel efficiency - Mr. Peper never once voluntarily mentioned that the Malibu Hybrid was a mild hybrid. Only when asked did he reveal that the hybrid benefit was "about 10% on both EPA 2008 city and highway testing." Unofficial. The Hybrid numbers would be about 24 MPG city and 34 MPG Highway based on the more realistic EPA 2008 cycles. These are respectable numbers but fall short of full hybrid by quite a bit. The Toyota Camry hybrid, a comparable car, gets 33 MPG city.

Still, looking on the bright side, buyers of this Malibu, either conventional or mild hybrid, may be retiring a vehicle with substantially lower fuel economy numbers. It isn't the high mileage of a few vehicles that will save us. It is the good mileage (and reduced annual driving) that will. So the Chevy Malibu is to be welcomed. It is a step closer to what we need.

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  • 23 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Once again, the argument of retiring a car with lower fuel economy is somewhat misleading. Much of the carbon "footprint" of a car comes from its manufacture - running your 3 year old car for 15 years is likely to produce less total carbon than replacing it now with one that gets slightly better gas mileage over that same timeframe. Until the automakers and their entire supply chain reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced in the making of a vehicle, replacing a vehicle for reasons of reducing carbon is simply a fallacy.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Chris M, it makes more sense to compare the Malibu to the Camry Hybrid. The Camry gets much better mileage but costs more. GM will probably keep the BAS system when they introduce their 2 mode system. Some people can't or wont pay the additional cost. Yes a Civic and Prius are about the same price but who is going to shop a Malibu against a Prius? The reason Toyota makes a Camry hybrid is precisely because some people prefer a sedan to a hatchback. As for the Civic it is a much smaller car than the Malibu and it's trunk is tiny. Price is still the biggest factor in what car people buy. On a personal note I have driven a Prius and frankly it was a very under whelming experience. The steering is numb, and the handling was not crisp enough for me. The regen braking while a great way to recoup energy means brake feel is nonexistent. Now I am no fan of hybrids in general, I think small light cars with small displacement engines are a much better solution. I realize however there are people who want/need bigger vehicles so hybrids, in all their guises are "one" solution.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I can see that someone might say 'driving a Prius is an underwhelming experience' if they are only familiar with high horsepower cars. I own a 2007 Prius, and within the first few days of owning it, I was totally convinced the car had all the power and handling I would need. It is far from gutless. The 'synergy' transmission means that the gas and electric engines pull together. There is a lot of torque off the line. The car accelerates very well at highway speeds. You are definitely not underpowered relative to the other vehicles around you. It handles very nicely in my opinion.

        It is an exceptionally practical car. My wife and I absolutely love all the cargo space it has, especially with the back seats down. We were loyal Honda owners and took a close look at the Civic Hybrid, but the fact that the Civic's rear seats wouldn't fold down crushed that idea. We have the seats down at least once a week.

        I have to drive 180 miles every weekend and I am very glad that I bought this car. It is such a smooth ride and has such a quiet cabin and nice sturdy seats, I love it. We have the HK package that has the Bluetooth and MP3 jack. Can't say enough good things about the car.

        But then again, maybe I am just too practical. If I was all hung up on style or excess power in cars, I probably would be blind to the raw practicality of this car.

        -DK
      • 7 Years Ago
      Whoops, "Meaning the Malibu is actually cheaper by about $3800 over the cost of 4 years." Should have been over 3 years.

      Also Art noted I didn't mention resale value so I will add that on for the interested. The Residual Lease value for car leases is the banks estimate of what the cars value will be at the end of the lease. Which directly relates to the cars resale value. The Malibu's residual value for 3 years/36k miles is 49.5% the Camry's is 61%. Meaning a
      $28000 Camry depreciates $11,000 and the Malibu would deprecriate
      $12000.
      • 7 Years Ago
      They know Americans will buy it. They're figuring Americans will buy even more of it if it's less expensive.
      ammca66564
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think there's a place for the mild hybrid.

      Just do the math: low cost, medium size mileage benefit versus the high cost Toyota system with its larger mileage benefit. I haven't run the numbers, but I suspect (given that it tends to take many years of driving to justify a full hybrid, and then battery replacement rears its expensive head and throws the whole calculation back to square one) that the mild hybrid actually does pretty well.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Is the Malibu really a "Mild Hybrid" (the definition of which is still not totally clear), or is it simply a weak (as in physically weak) parallel hybrid. On the web site they do imply that propulsion from the electric motor is possible, though with those crappy city MPG numbers there's clearly not a lot of power or energy there.
      • 7 Years Ago
      While this hybrid system is not as robust as some would like I would point out that it's still an improvement. Also the cost of the Hybrid Option is $1800 and this vehicle is eliable for the 2008 $1300 Tax Rebate which reduces your taxes owed (not to be confused with a normal deduction). So Basically you get a Malibu LT + Hybrid Drive for $500 (after the tax rebate) and the hybrid has a few extra options thrown in, like steering wheel radio controls. So if you like the car you shouldn't feel bad about opting for the hybrid since with the tax rebate the cost to the consumer is pretty low. btw Crude went to $110 a barrel today so even 10% more fuel economy is probably going to be worth the minimal cost. The Cheapest Camry Hybrid at the dealer near me was $28,000.

      Assuming you drive 12000 miles a year and gas costs $4 a gallon, then a 3 year fuel cost for the camry would be $4360, for the Malibu $6000. While the Camry saves you $1640 on gas it costs about $5500 more. Meaning the Malibu is actually cheaper by about $3800 over the cost of 4 years.

      The Tax rebate for the Camry is $2600 and the Malibu is $1300 keep in mind this only applies to the first 60,000 Hybrid Vehicles built by Toyota or Chevy so avaliability may very depending on when you buy in 2008.

      CO2: 12,000 miles a year for 3 years.

      Camry: 10.35 Tons

      Malibu: 14.55 Tons

      Replacing 10 100W bulbs in your home with flourescent bulbs saves about 1 Ton of carbon per year. So IMO buy the american car and take the $5000 you save and buy some trees for the yard and replace all the bulbs in your home ;D.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "While it is true that GM and Chevy are talking green every chance they get, one finds it hard to forget history. GM and Chevy are synonymous with the high energy lifestyle we are trying to wean ourselves from."

      Can you imagine Chevy or another car company reversing that message in their ads?

      Something like: "American consumers talk green every chancy they get, but it's hard to forget history. 'American' and 'consumer' are synonymous with the high consumption vehicles from which we are trying to wean ourselves." The turnabout would definitely be fair play.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Actually, very little of the carbon footprint comes from manufacturing. Of course there is a debate about those figures, but numbers I've seen are typically in the 10-30% range (probably on the lower side of that range in the US since we drive more miles and keep cars longer than Europeans).

      There's this big misconception that if you buy a used car, you're really wasting a bunch of energy (while really, it may be just a waste of money).

      But think about this. So ideally, everyone buys a used car. Hmmm. Oh wait, that's not going to work, because cars don't last forever (and population is going up, miles traveled is going up, etc.)

      OK so someone has to buy new cars eventually. If YOU buy a new car, it means someone else is more likely to buy a used one (supply/demand), and if YOU buy a used one, then someone else is more likely to buy a new one. It all sort of balances out.

      So now, if you (instead of person X) buys that new car, you can choose to buy a fuel efficient one instead of person X, who would on average buy an average MPG car. So basically, environmentalists need to be the ones buying new cars, so that they can dictate what cars end up on the road.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The GM "mild hybrid" means their idle stop/start system with a combined starter motor/generator operating at 36 or 48 volts. IIRC, the Malibu Hybrid is using the Belt Alternator Starter system, which does have limited regenerative braking, and excellent engine auto-start.

      As an improved starter motor, it is a big improvement - no more solenoid! As a hybrid, it is anemic - limited regen, very limited electric assist, no CVT.
      • 7 Years Ago
      AMca: I might have agreed with your logic if this "mild hybrid" Malibu had cost substantially less than the Full Hybrids, but starting price is only slightly less than the starting price of a Prius or Civic Hybrid that get much higher milage.

      For anyone doing a substantial amount of driving, paying an extra $2K and getting nearly double the milage would be worthwhile.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Am I correct in believing that GM's "mild hybrids" do not include regenerative braking?
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