Malibu has been a Chevrolet nameplate since 1964, first as an upscale trim level for the Chevelle and then a separate model in 1978. The redesigned, eighth generation 2013 Malibu will go on sale in early 2012, representing Chevrolet’s first global mid-size sedan with sales planned for nearly 100 countries.
Initially, only the Malibu Eco with an Ecotec 2.4-liter engine and the eAssist mild hybrid system will be offered. Later in the year it will be joined by new Ecotec 2.5-liter and turbocharged 2.0-liter engines. All are four-cylinders and are mated with a next-generation Hydra-Matic 6T40 six-speed transmission.
The Malibu Eco is the first Chevrolet with eAssist, which is already available on the 2012 Buick LaCrosse and Regal. The mild hybrid eAssist system recoups up to 15 kilowatts of power during braking and uses it to recharge the battery. Fuel delivery is shut off under certain deceleration conditions for further fuel savings In the Auto-Stop mode, the motor-generator unit brings the engine to a controlled stop, positioning it properly for a smooth and seamless restart when the brake is released.
The motor supplies up to 15 horsepower to the output of the 2.4-liter engine. With a combined 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet torque, this means improved acceleration that makes the Malibu Eco faster than the current Malibu. It also allows higher gearing for greater cruising efficiency. At cruising speeds, eAssist provide enough assistance so light acceleration and climbing mild grades can be done without the transmission downshifting. Automatic Grade Braking keeps the transmission in a lower gear when decelerating or coasting on a downgrade to reduce brake wear The all-aluminum engine features dual overhead camshafts, variable valve timing, and direct injection.
The compact, high-performance induction motor-generator is liquid-cooled and mounted to the Ecotec 2.4-liter engine, replacing the alternator to provide both motor assist and electricity generation via a revised engine belt-drive system. The 32 cylindrical cell, lithium-ion Hitachi battery pack and power electronics are integrated into an eAssist power pack that’s located in a compartment between the rear seat and trunk in a way that still allows access to the trunk via the split-folding rear seat. It only reduces cargo capacity slightly and adds just 65 pounds to overall vehicle weight. An electric fan cools the power pack, drawing air from a vent located in the package tray behind the rear seat.
Improved fuel economy also results from better aerodynamics. An active shutter system located in the lower grille automatically shuts off airflow through the lower intake when least needed. This enhances aero performance by redirecting airflow around the front of the vehicle and down the sides, rather than through it. Opening and closing is based on coolant temperature and speed. The shutters open when traveling up a hill, pulling a trailer, or in hot city driving, with the shutters closing at highway speeds.
Other aerodynamic features include a dual-port upper grille that closes to redirect air flow up and over the hood. Even the outside rear view mirrors and tail lamps were designed for maximize efficiency. Four underbody panels cover approximately 50 percent of the lower portion of the vehicle for cleaner airflow beneath the vehicle. Overall, the wind tunnel-tuned exterior of the Malibu Eco has a low .30 coefficient of drag.
The 2013 Malibu Eco achieves 12% greater highway fuel economy than current models equipped with the 2.4-liter engine. GM estimates fuel economy of 37 mpg highway, 25 mpg city, and 29 mpg combined. The Malibu Eco can travel 580 highway miles between fill-ups with a 15.8-gallon fuel tank.