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.
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[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.