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GM to introduce strong hybrid version of Malibu; combined fuel economy above 45 mpg; leverages Volt

GM will introduce a strong hybrid version of the next-generation Malibu. Using technology from the 2016 Chevrolet Volt propulsion system (earlier post), Malibu Hybrid will offer an estimated combined fuel economy rating exceeding 45 mpg (5.22 l/100 km), higher than the combined cycle mileage ratings of the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata hybrid variants and a significant boost over the 29 mpg combined of the MY 2015 Malibu with 2.5L engine with start/stop.

An all-new direct-injection 1.8L 4-cylinder engine mated to a two-motor drive unit slightly modified from the 2016 Chevrolet Volt drive unit powers the Malibu Hybrid. The drive unit provides additional power to assist the engine during acceleration, for 182 horsepower (136 kW) of total system power.

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2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Lithium-Ion Battery System, 1.8L Engine and Drive Unit. Click to enlarge.

The engine also features Chevrolet’s first application of Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery, or EGHR, technology, which uses exhaust heat to warm the engine and cabin. EGHR improves engine warm up and assures consistent fuel economy performance in cold weather. Additional fuel economy benefits come from Exhaust Gas Recirculation, or EGR.

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An 80-cell, 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides electric power to the Hybrid system. The advanced lithium-ion based chemistry can power the Malibu hybrid at up to 55 mph (89 km/h) on electricity alone. The gasoline-powered engine will automatically come on at higher speeds and high loads when necessary to provide additional power.

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Malibu Hybrid also shares power electronics from the 2016 Volt and a blended regenerative braking system, which provides maximum kinetic energy recovery during braking to be stored into the battery system to help maintain charge.

The 2016 Malibu Hybrid will offer impressive fuel economy, exceptional driving characteristics and gorgeous styling. Besides leveraging innovation from the Chevrolet Volt, the Malibu Hybrid also has unique features that help improve aerodynamics, like upper and lower grille air shutters to improve airflow and a reduced ride height, all of which help reduce fuel consumption.

—Jesse Ortega, Chevrolet Malibu chief engineer

In 2011, GM announced the 2013 Malibu ECO, which featured GM’s mild hybrid eAssist light electrification technology (earlier post). Malibu ECO’s eAssist system—the second-generation of belt-alternator-starter (BAS) hybrid technology—was mated to a 2.4L Ecotec direct-injection four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission.

GM discontinued the eAssist variant in MY 2014, as the conventional Malibu caught up in terms of fuel economy: 29 mpg combined for the Malibu Eco with MSRP of $25,845 versus 29 mpg combined for the Malibu with 2.5L engine with MSRP from $22,140 - $29,850.

The MY 2015 Malibu features two powertrain offerings: the standard 2.5L iVLC (intake valve lift control) with stop/start technology and a 2.0L turbo. Along with other technologies, including direct injection, variable valve lift control and a six-speed automatic transmission, the 2.5L powertrain contributes to EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 25 mpg in city driving and 36 mpg on the highway, for a combined 29 mpg with MSRP of $22,340 - $30,355.

The Malibu Hybrid will be manufactured in Kansas City, Kansas, at the Fairfax Assembly plant from globally sourced parts. It is due in Chevrolet dealer showrooms in spring 2016.

Comments

HarveyD

The GM Malibu HEV and the Volt PHEV could be the very same car with ICEV/HEV/PHEV options?

sd

The Malibu is a larger vehicle than the Volt which more the size of the Chevrolet Cruze. Anyway, I am glad that GM is bringing out a reasonable strong hybrid onto the market. With the Volt, the Bolt (which needs a better name in my opinion) and the Hybrid Malibu, GM will have a reasonable electric lineup to build on.

Roger Pham

Great move, GM! The Volt is a very good looking design, and hopefully, the new Malibu will follow similar beautiful lines and curves of the new Volt.

The Malibu hybrid will also make a great PHEV. However, this time, please follow the German's examples and put in it 12 kWh pack for ~30-mi range, that will fit neatly between the front seats without intruding into the rear legroom, instead of a 18.2-kWh pack that takes away the middle seat.

The Malibu is a bigger car, and along with a smaller battery pack placed between the two front seats, would be a no-compromise 5-seat PHEV, having a full trunk space and fold-down rear seats and generous rear legroom. A hatch back version of the Malibu would even be better for GM to claim even more trunk space.
I've always wanted Tesla to make a no-compromise PHEV, but it looks like if the Malibu will also be offered in PHEV version, it would be just as functional as a hypothetical Tesla Model S PHEV. The Malibu with a hatch back like the Model S and in PHEV would be an ideal, must-buy vehicle, especially that the Malibu's styling has resemblance to the Model S.

When plugged in twice daily, a 12-kWh pack can deliver 60 electric miles to rival the Volt. Plugging-in at work using solar car ports should be highly encouraged in order to rapidly decarbonize personal transportation.

HarveyD

Camry, Fusion and Sonata Hybrids (HEVs) will have to be improved by 10% to 15% to compete with this new 2016 Malibu HEV.

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