GM = Goodbye Malibu | 2 Mild Hybrids Gone

2010-hybrid-malibu-discontinued.jpgIn addition to getting rid of the Hummer line and selling the Saturn brand to Penske, GM recently announced that they are also discontinuing all mild hybrids from their current line-up. In an effort to pull unsuccessful, expensive technologies that show inefficient ROI, General Motors will stop building the Chevy Malibu Hybrid and Saturn Aura hybrid for the 2010 model year.

According to the Wall Street Journal,  a spokesman from GM stated that the company made this decision because of a “sufficient stock of 2009s,” and said starting up production in the near future is “possible, but not likely.” General Motors will continue to make hybrid-electric versions of the Malibu for fleet buyers, but it is uncertain if they will ever offer the Malibu hybrid for retail consumers again.

GM’s mild hybrids have not been well received by critics or consumers due to too little difference in fuel-efficiency. After unsuccessful sales of the Chevy Malibu, released at the 2008 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, GM has decided to pull the series and put funds toward more efficient hybrids down the road.

With a 22 mpg city rating and 33 mpg highway rating for the stand series,  it’s no big surprise that the 26/34 mpg  2009 Malibu Hybrid, with an extra $4,000 price tag, didn’t fare well amongst its’ competitors. In the same price range, the 2010 Ford Fusion boasts a 41 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, and the newly released 2010 Toyota Prius gets an astounding 50 mpg city and 49 mpg highway.

Getting rid of the hybrid Malibu and hybrid Aura won’t cost GM a lot of missed sales. Although Chevy has sold 64,000 Malibus from the start of the year through May, only about 3% (2,000) were of the hybrid version. Even more dismal were green Aura sales. In the same time period, Saturn dealers sold 9,000 Auras, but less than 2% (135) of them were hybrids, according to Autodata.

The company has not announced plans to pull their Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, or any of their full-size hybrid trucks, which use a two-mode hybrid technology co-developed by Chrysler and BMW. However, Chrysler has discontinued their full-size hybrid SUV’s, the Chrysler Aspen Hybrid and Dodge Durango Hybrid that use the same technology.

After a series of unsuccessful, mildly better, hybrids, GM stated they will be turning to their plug-in series hybrid, utilizing the Chevy Volt for inspiration. There are also rumors of another upcoming hybrid, which will apply use of a lithium-ion battery and might be ready for release as early as the summer of 2011. They have not stated which models will receive these upgrades or if their will be an entirely new series developed using these technologies. Either way, it is certain that the development of these technologies will require a tremendous investment.

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