2008 Chevy Malibu Hybrid - Click above for high-res image gallery
General Motors' current crop of midsize hybrid sedans are rarely mentioned in the same breath as hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima – let alone the standard-bearing Toyota Prius and its main competitor from Japan, the Honda Insight. According to The General, much of the blame for the slow sales of the Chevy Malibu and Saturn Aura hybrids is due to the small mileage improvement of the mild hybrid powertrain compared to a standard four-cylinder and six-speed automatic transmission. No kidding, right?
Fortunately, GM apparently has a plan to address its midsize hybrid shortcomings. Speaking to GM-Volt.com, Chevrolet head Ed Peper said:
What we are trying to work towards is 'Yes,' we will have other hybrid vehicles (besides the Volt) but we are trying to work towards a dedicated hybrid... We think that's probably a better way for us to go longer term.And now for the fun part: Speculation. If GM were to develop a new dedicated midsize hybrid model, it seems likely that it would use its sophisticated 2-Mode Hybrid system in lieu of the mild belt-alternator-starter system currently employed in the Malibu and Aura hybrids. The first production instance of the 2-Mode system in a front-drive application is expected in either the Cadillac SRX or the Chevy Equinox, possibly in 2011. A dedicated hybrid sedan could soon follow using the same drivetrain.
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