Detroit Auto Show: Hybrid option for 2008 Chevy Malibu

There will be a hybrid option when the redesigned 2008 Chevrolet Malibu goes on sale. Speaking with reporters after he introduced the vehicle today at the Detroit Auto Show, Chevy general manager Ed Peper said the belt-alternater-starter (BAS) system will be utilized first, but would not confirm if the much-talked-about two-mode system would eventually be offered.

The Malibu is built on the same platform as the Saturn Aura Green Line, which also has a BAS hybrid option. GM has already announced that the Saturn Vue Green Line will offer both the BAS and two-mode hybrid as well as a plug-in version of the two-mode.

The new Malibu comes with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder or a 3.6-liter V6. GM says the 164-horsepower 2.4-liter will deliver 31 mpg on the highway, even with the tougher EPA mileage estimates. With the LTZ trim the 2.4-liter gets a 6-speed automatic transmission. Lower trim levels get a 4-speed auto. The V6 will be rated at 252 horsepower with estimated highway fuel economy at 26 mpg. All V6s get the 6-speed.

The new Malibu will be a critical factor in GM's move away from the perception that it can only build gas-guzzling trucks.

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