The next-generation Chevrolet Malibu range will include a conventional hybrid version using bits of technology from the new Volt plug-in.
As we know, Chevrolet’s all-new mid-sized staple premieres in regular petrol form in New York next week. The petrol-electric version will be the US market’s efficiency leader.
Under the bonnet is a new direct-injection 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine matched to a two-motor drive unit “slightly modified” from the 2016 Chevrolet Volt. The drive unit provides additional power to assist the engine during acceleration, for 136kW of total system power.
An 80-cell, 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides electric power. Impressively, it can power the Malibu hybrid at up to 90km/h on electricity alone — higher than average. The petrol engine will automatically come on at higher speeds and high loads.
The Malibu Hybrid is not a PHEV like the Volt, meaning it can’t be plugged into a wall charger. It’s more akin to a Toyota Prius or Camry Hybrid.
The engine also features Chevrolet’s first application of Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery (EGHR), which uses exhaust heat to warm the engine and cabin. EGHR improves engine warm up and assures consistent fuel economy performance in cold weather.
The 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.
General Motors is claiming fuel economy of around 5.0 litres per 100km, and claims to better rivals in this area such as hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion (Mondeo), Camry and Hyundai Sonata.
We will see how the new Malibu range looks next week. We already know it will be up to 135kg lighter than the current car, despite being about 10cm longer in the wheelbase. The petrol version will go on-sale in the US by the end of 2015, while the Hybrid will be a few months behind.
As for its Australian future, it stands to reason the regular Malibu will arrive in Australia next year — as one of 24 major Holden launches scheduled for arrival by 2020 — but the Hybrid appears to be a ‘maybe’ at best, given the low uptake of petrol-electric cars here.
We’re awaiting official comment from Holden.