GM Do Brasil Imports Malibu! Why, Oh Why?

Marcelo de Vasconcellos
by Marcelo de Vasconcellos
gm do brasil imports malibu why oh why

Long rumored to be arriving, the Chevy Malibu has now, finally, arrived! It is yet another car to be mused over by import crazed Brazilians. It comes in LTZ guise with a 2.4L gasoline-only engine that’s good for 171 ponies. It comes mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that allows manual shifting. And it’s loaded to the gills (at least by Brazilian standards) with 6 airbags, ABS, stability control, automatic A/C, and even (by gosh!) electrically-adjusted and heated seats, remote start key, 18 inch aluminum wheels and, last but not least, an audio system with CD and MP3 with 8 speakers (according to Bestcars). All of this for a princely 89,000 Brazilian reais or $49,900 (at 1.8 real to the dollar).

No, I won’t go there this time, but, but (sadly, there always seems to be a but or two)…

Why now? Isn’t the new Malibu coming out in 6 month’s time? Is GM foisting leftovers on hapless Brazilians? Will GM send slightly banged-up stamping tools to make this car in Brazil, liked in the bad old days? Or is GM just testing the waters, and if we bite, will they bring the new Malibu to Brazil? Is GM doing this only to increase foot traffic at dealers at a time when the new Fiat Uno is grabbing all the attention ( see my next article for more on this)?

There is a market for this kind of car in Brazil. Ford’s Fusion and Hyundai’s Azera sell about 800 of each every month. But, GM seems late to the party, and wearing clothes that look like hand-me-downs. Is GM counting on Brazilians being so disconnected that they don’t know anything and will buy this car like there’s no tomorrow? Will the hapless Brazilian consumer be stuck with a car with a run of a year or less and all the attendant difficulties in terms of parts, depreciation, etc.?

So, GM will bring this car for a year or thereabouts, and then substitute it with the new one? Or abandon the market yet again? And, again, sacrifice their good name in the Brazilian market? Tell me, how is this good for GM? Is GM willing to tarnish their good standing in the big car market in Brazil just for the sake of flipping some leftovers?

So many questions. Does this make the Malibu a questionable car?

The mind boggles. And the lights seem to be out at the RenCen.

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3 of 31 comments
  • Mtypex Mtypex on May 19, 2010

    Ah, watching GM mess up in key emerging markets for fun and profit. I love nothing else.

    • Marcelo de Vasconcellos Marcelo de Vasconcellos on May 20, 2010

      And in a key market. That sells 3 million cars now and is projected to reach the 5million sale threshold in 2014 and so the makers are making their plans accordingly. So GM will anger some influential people. This will have an effect throughout the market. Brazilians might just maybe learn that Chevy is no luxury car. Hoe can GM be happy damaging such cachet? It's sad. And it makes me sad.

  • Reclusive_in_nature Reclusive_in_nature on May 20, 2010

    What, no 3.6 for the Brazilians? Better their country than mine.

  • FreedMike Race car drivers are all alpha-types. Aggression is part of the deal. I think you see more of that stuff in NASCAR because crashes - the end result of said aggression - are far more survivable than they would be in F1 or IndyCar.
  • Analoggrotto Only allow Tesla drivers to race, we are the epitome of class and brilliance.
  • Wjtinfwb When my kids turned 16 and got their Operators, we spent $400 to send both (twins) to 2 driving schools. One held by the local Sherriff was pretty basic but a good starter on car control and dealing with police officers as they ran the school. Then they went to a full day class in N Atlanta on a racetrack, with the cars supplied by BMW. They learned evasive maneuvers, high speed braking, skid control on a wet skid pad and generally built a lot of confidence behind the wheel. Feeling better about their skills, we looked for cars. My son was adamant he wanted a manual, Halleluiah! Looking at used Civics and Golf's and concerned about reliability and safety, I got discouraged. Then noticed an AutoTrader adv. for a new leftover '16 Ford Focus ST six-speed. 25k MSRP advertised for $17,500. $2500 above my self-imposed limit. I went to look, a brand new car, 16 miles on it, black with just the sunroof. 3 year warranty and ABS, Airbags. One drive and the torquey turbo 2.0 convinced me and I bought it on the spot. 7 years and 66k miles later it still serves my son well with zero issues. My daughter was set on a Subaru, I easily found a year old Crosstrek with all the safety gear and only 3k miles. 21k but gave my wife and I lots of peace of mind. She still wheels the Subaru, loves it and it too has provided 7 years and 58k miles of low cost motoring. Buy what fits your budget but keep in mind total cost over the long haul and the peace of mind a reliable and safe car provides. Your kids are worth it.
  • Irvingklaws Here's something cheaper, non-german, and more intriguing...
  • Wjtinfwb Happy you're loving your Z4. Variety is the spice of life and an off-beat car like the Z4 intrigues me as well. More than anything, your article and pictures have me lusting for the dashboards of a decade ago. Big, round analog gauges. Knobs and buttons to dial up the A/C, Heat or Volume. Not a television screen in sight. Need to back up? Use the mirrors or look over your shoulder. If your Z4 had the six-speed manual, it would be about perfect. Today's electronified BMW's leave me ice cold, as do the new Mercedes and Audi's with their video game interiors. Even a lowly GTI cannot escape the glowing LED dashboard. I'm not a total luddite, Bluetooth streaming for the radio would be nice and I'd agree the cooled seats would be a bonus on a warm day with the top down. But the Atari dashboard is just a bridge too far for me.