The Malibu, which in Australia is sold as a Holden Malibu in its current-generation, is going up against the likes of Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata.
The new Malibu will go into production in late 2015 for the U.S. market, with General Motors’ executive vice President of global product development and former Holden boss, Mark Reuss, telling Australian media that “we will see” in regards to a right-hand drive production.
Pressed further about the car’s underlying ability to be built in right-hand drive, Reuss told CarAdvice “we actually engineer all of our architectures to be right hand drive [capable] and we make decisions on a vehicle by vehicle and market by market basis, so yes.”
In North America, the vehicle will be available with a choice of a new 1.5-litre turbocharged engine (119kW and 250Nm), 2.0-litre turbo (180kW and 350Nm) and a new 1.8-litre naturally aspirated hybrid variant (136kW) that can run on electricity up to 88km/h with a combined fuel economy of 5L/100km.
The decision regarding the new Malibu for Australia would still be some time away with the initial production (out of Kansas city) only for the North American market.
The current Holden Malibu is built in South Korea as part of GM Korea (formerly Daewoo) so any right-hand drive production of the new Malibu will likely require the Korean plant to be retooled.
The Holden Malibu managed just 1,635 sales in Australia in 2014, only outselling the ageing Kia Optima and Subaru Liberty. With volumes so low in a medium-sized segment that shrunk by 15 percent from 2013 to 2014, and shows a further three percent decline already this year, the business case may not be as strong for the new car as it was when the decision was made to bring the original Malibu.
As we know, Holden is planning about 24 launches by 2020, though many of these will be sourced via European subsidiary Opel, instead.
The company's official statement regarding right-hand drive states:
“We continuously review all potential products that may suit the Australian market, but have no announcements at this time. Holden is committed to leveraging GM’s global product portfolio to provide the best vehicles for our customers.”
More on 2016 Chevrolet Malibu.