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Chevy Struggles to Kickstart Sluggish Malibu Sales

Price cut could help – but “emergency refresh” also coming.

by on Feb.12, 2013

Chevrolet has had little success taking on the dominant Japanese with the new 2013 Malibu.

Chevrolet’s goal of regaining its once-lofty position in the U.S. midsize sedan market have failed to materialize –forcing the maker to slash prices and order up an “emergency refresh” of the only recently redesigned Malibu.

General Motor’s largest brand will slash the price on its midsize Malibu by as much as $770 hoping to keep the sedan from losing more ground to its import and domestic competitors. Introduced in early 2012, the domestic 4-door faces a formidable assortment of competitors in one of the market’s toughest segments, including all-new versions of the Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima and Honda Accord, as well as the midsize sales leader, the Toyota Camry.

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Malibu sales did post a modest gain in 2012, according to tracking firm Autodata, but the 3.3% rise, to 210,951 units, lagged well behind the overall 13.5% increase in the U.S. market. Malibu’s unanticipated shortfall is one reason why parent General Motors lost 1.5 points of market share in 2012, industry analysts report.

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Chevy Bringing New Impala, Traverse To New York Auto Show

But is an alternate, rear-drive offering in the cards, as well?

by on Mar.22, 2012

 

Chevrolet offers just a subtle peak at the new Impala coming to New York next month.

The folks at Chevrolet will be busy squeezing in two significant new product updates at the New York Auto Show next month, the maker pulling the wraps off both an all-new version of the aging Impala line, as well as revealing an updated version of the big Chevy Traverse SUV.

The Traverse will reach showrooms for the 2013 model-year, but Chevrolet planners apparently want to build buzz more slowly for the big Impala sedan, which will be designated a 2014 model when it reaches showrooms.

The Impala nameplate is one of the General Motors division’s oldest, first bolting onto a sedan back in 1958.  The 2014 reincarnation will be the Impala’s tenth-generation remake – and, Chevy clearly hopes, will help add momentum to a brand that set a global sales record last year, topping 5 million vehicles – dealers around the world selling one new Chevrolet car, truck or crossover, on average, every six seconds.

 

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“The new Impala further strengthens Chevrolet’s passenger car lineup by giving consumers a full-size sedan that balances the desire for distinction with engaging driving dynamics,” said Chris Perry, the vice president of Global Chevrolet Marketing.

The teaser image doesn’t reveal much, though it does hint that Chevy designers opted for a classic luxury cue, with a long and sweeping C-pillar and what appears to be a more coupe-like roofline than the current Impala.  It also boasts plenty of chrome trim. 

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Chevy Nearing All-Time Sales Record

Malibu underscores brand’s shift to a global focus.

by on Dec.20, 2011

Malibu is going global and could help Chevy hit another record in 2012.

With its 100th birthday barely fading in the rearview mirror, Chevrolet is on pace to set an all-time global sale record in 2011, having sold 4.8 million units through the end of November and with December off to a strong start.

Meanwhile, Chevrolet’s global market share has increased by nearly one half of a point this year, Russ Clark, Chevrolet’s marketing manager for midsized and performance cars, told TheDetroitBureau.com, while suggesting General Motors’ largest marque is steadily advancing towards its goal of becoming a truly global brand.

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Sixty percent of all Chevrolets are now sold outside the United States, which had been the bowtie brand’s primary hunting ground for most of the past century, according to statistics cited by Clark during a conversation about Chevrolet’s business plans.

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First Drive: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco

GM’s midsize gets a mild hybrid mileage boost.

by on Dec.19, 2011

Chevrolet will got to market first with the new 2013 Malibu Eco model.

There was a time, not all that many years ago, when General Motors owned the American midsize market.  But a procession of poorly designed and executed products all but ensured that the Japanese would take command – products like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry today dominating the critical market segment.

The General began to signal its intent to regain its once-lofty position with the launch of an all-new Chevrolet Malibu in 2008 – the domestic sedan going on to win kudos as North American Car of the Year.  Now, Chevy hopes to ramp things up a couple more notches with the launch of the next-generation Malibu.

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We headed to Austin, Texas to spend some time in the new midsize sedan – or, more precisely, in the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco.  That’s the “mild” hybrid version that will be coming to market in the coming months, with the mainstream version to follow some months later once its all-new 4-cylinder engine is ready for production.

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The Answer, Says Chevy, is Blowin’ in the Wind

Maker uses aerodynamics to boost mileage on 2013 Malibu.

by on Sep.01, 2011

A 2013 Chevy Malibu prototype sits in the business end of the GM wind tunnel, the massive blades able to blast wind at speeds up to 138 mph.

The smokescreen flows smoothly up and over the hood, the stream arcing gracefully over the roof.  But, when it hits the mirror it shatters into eddys and curls.  Who knew something so small could cause so much trouble.

Actually, it’s something John Cafaro was well aware when he set to work on the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu.  It’s often the most subtle details that can cause the most serious problems when it comes to designing a car that cuts through the wind like a knife.

Aerodynamics have played a critical role in aircraft development almost since the Wright Brothers’ Flyer first took to the air.  But it would be decades before automotive stylists truly understood the role the concept could play in their designs – helping improve performance and vehicle stability while also yielding significant improvements in fuel economy.

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Today, however, any good designer “has aerodynamic solutions in mind” the moment they begin work on a new project, explains Cafaro, the veteran GM designer, as he leads a tour of the automaker’s mammoth wind tunnel at its sprawling technical center in the Detroit suburb of Warren, Michigan.

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Inside the 2013 Chevy Malibu

We get our first chance to crawl all over Chevy’s next-gen midsize sedan.

by on Jul.28, 2011

The next Chevrolet Malibu will make its debut for 2013.

It’s not often you get a chance to crawl inside a major product more than a year before its official launch, but even as most makers are starting to push their 2012 products, we found ourselves this week getting up-close-and-personal with the all-new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu.

The Malibu, you may recall, created something of a shock wave when the current version made its debut as a 2007 model – quickly grabbing an array of awards including the coveted North American Car of the Year trophy.  It remains a solid seller, but the market has moved on and with all-new versions of the top-selling Toyota Camry and Honda Accord soon to market – never mind offerings like the Hyundai Sonata and Ford Fusion to deal with – Chevy is wisely hoping to wow us with the next-gen Malibu.

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We got a first glimpse of the midsize sedan at the New York Auto Show, a few months back, but the General Motors division had a prototype on hand – along with some of the key designers and engineers working on the 2013 program – as we headed out to its sprawling Milford (Michigan) Proving Grounds.

There’s no question that Chevrolet isn’t planning to play it safe.  As senior GM officials have stressed, the worst thing you can shoot for is simply a “competitive” vehicle.  Inside and out, if Chevy ever hopes to seriously tackle the imports it has to be bold and aggressive.

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Volt Plant to Shut for Retooling, Allowing Expanded Production

Upgrades at plant will also allow GM to build 2013 Chevrolet Malibu there.

by on Jun.09, 2011

GM will temporarily shut down the plant where the Chevrolet Volt is built for retooling and to allow for expanded production.

General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant, home of the Chevrolet Volt, will close for four weeks beginning in June for planned upgrades to prepare for a significant increase in the rate of Volt production, along with assembly of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu midsize sedan.

Already in tight supply, the number of Volts available for delivery to retail customers will be further restricted  before production resumes. At that point, GM will begin producing the Volt and the Opel Ampera for export to Europe and China.

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“The Volt will be available to customers nationwide by the end of 2011,” said Cristi Landy, director of Chevrolet Volt marketing. “By taking the time to reconfigure the plant, we will be better able to meet the tremendous consumer demand.”

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2013 Chevrolet Malibu Gets Shanghai Welcome

Maker plans global roll-out for classic American model.

by on Apr.19, 2011

The 2013 Chevy Malibu noses into Shanghai

The Chevrolet Malibu got a Shanghai send-off, this week, marking a significant shift in strategy for not just that most American of mid-size sedans but for the Chevy brand itself.

The top-selling passenger car for the largest General Motors division, the Malibu will undergo a significant update for 2013, just three years after it was named North American Car of the Year.

The new version of the sedan will borrow some key styling cues from the wildly popular Chevrolet Camaro, including a more sculpted, coke bottle-style shape, while the interior will be larger and significantly more refined, more in line with cabin benchmark Audi.  Meanwhile, the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu will deliver improved fuel economy, company officials noted.

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But one of the most significant changes has nothing to do with the features or content of the 2013 sedan.  The outgoing Malibu is sold in just 20 countries, mostly in various parts of the Americas, North and South.  Going forward, it will be offered in more than 100 national markets, reflecting the ongoing transformation of Chevrolet into a global, rather than U.S.-defined brand.

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First Look: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu

GM inadvertently leaks its own secret.

by on Apr.14, 2011

Whoops, you weren't supposed to see that.

It’s been said that there are few secrets in Detroit, a town that has, historically, leaked like the proverbial sieve.  And General Motors certainly proved that point when it inadvertently let a sneak peek of the next-generation Chevrolet Malibu appear on its media website today.

Ironically, the maker had intended to run the classic teaser campaign, first showing off a shot of the rear taillights and, for this morning, sending out a release with an image of the midsize sedan’s new radio face – which, it revealed, articulates up or down to reveal hidden, illuminated 6-inch storage compartment.

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But the above image, which we first spotted on Autoblog.com, tells a much more complete story.

The look should be familiar to fans of the Malibu, which took honors as North American Car of the Year in 2008.  There’s a somewhat update version of the bowtie grille, accented by new multi-element headlamps that wrap into the fenders.

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GM Moving Up Launch of 2013 Chevrolet Malibu

Maker racing to speed up product launches.

by on Apr.12, 2011

Chevrolet offers a hint of the 2013 Malibu.

General Motors will roll its next-generation Chevrolet Malibu into dealer showrooms four months earlier than previously planned – part of a full-court press to speed up the company’s product development program.

Production of the new midsize model, which will be sold as a 2013 model, is set to begin in January 2012, rather than May, as originally scheduled, according to an internal GM document quoted by the Detroit News.

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The move to speed up product development has been spearheaded by GM CEO Dan Akerson who, earlier this year, warned that the company could be left short of new models due to the delays created by its 2009 bankruptcy.

The U.S., Akerson warned, was going to be particularly hard hit.  Product development programs for emerging markets, notably including China, had felt less of an impact from the maker’s run through Chapter 11.

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