An Automotive News article on the second anniversary of GM CEO Dan Akerson’s tenure sheds some light on the genesis of the Chevrolet Malibu Eco, and the puzzling decision to stagger the launch of the new mid-size sedan.
AN’s Mike Colias reports that
Last year Akerson asked his executive team to accelerate by six months the planned launch of the redesigned Chevrolet Malibu. He got a cool response. The base engine wouldn’t be ready in time for the launch Akerson sought. Debuting with a different powertrain would be costly and potentially delay the launch of higher-volume models, Akerson was warned.
His team dutifully fast-tracked the launch by fitting the car with a readily available 2.4-liter engine paired with a mild hybrid system to create the Malibu Eco. Since its January debut, though, sales have been tepid as GM sold down discounted versions of the outgoing 2012 model.
While a delayed launch would have seen the Malibu going head to head against the all-new Fusion and Accord (while letting the new Altima get a jump on the competition), there’s no doubt that the Malibu Eco has gotten a cool response of its own. Reading Mary Walton’s Car has made me give second thought to armchair criticism of new car launches, but while the DN101 Taurus was supposed to be a world-beater, the Malibu appears to be fraught with compromises needed for international sale, and the victim of a mis-managed rollout.