Automotive News Sheds Light On Akerson's Role In The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Launch

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
automotive news sheds light on akerson s role in the 2013 chevrolet malibu launch

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.

“He was told that it was a mistake,” one a former executive said. “But he couldn’t understand why it would take so long.”

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.

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  • Rudiger Rudiger on Aug 06, 2012

    The silver lining is that perhaps many people bought the outgoing model since the new one wasn't much of an improvement (and a lot more expensive), essentially clearing out all of last year's inventory.

  • Segfault Segfault on Aug 06, 2012

    The flipside of "too big to fail" is "too incompetent to succeed."

  • Areader Areader on Aug 06, 2012

    It's been several years since I read Walton's "Car", but IIRC Toyota decontented the Camry and cut the price, so that made it difficult for the new Taurus. But I remember that members of the Taurus team were dealt with harshly even though they hit the targets of cost and time. An example of being punished for doing the job assigned. I suppose a CEO with a quick trigger finger will get it right some of the time, but it's a bad process. Given his utter lack of experience and even knowledge of the car business, Akerson should be a humble guy at this stage. If you don't believe in your team, change the team. From what I read of Akerson, he's got an ego that far outweighs his ability. Enough signs are out there for the board to be seeking an alternative.

  • El scotto El scotto on Aug 06, 2012

    I just Googled Ackerson. Naval Academy and London School of Economics graduate. MCI, Nextel, and XO Communications stand out. He went from cell phones to vehicles. The irony of you should be operating one but not the other really sticks out.