By William Maley
Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com
February 2, 2013
Read any review of the Chevrolet Malibu Eco and most, if not all will say the mild hybrid system used doesn’t provide enough improvement in the fuel economy to justify the price. Chevrolet dealers are saying the same thing with consumers skipping over the Eco model.
"For most people, it's hard to justify the extra money based on the extra fuel economy of a combined 3 mpg more than the base model. You've got the base LS model sitting next to it that's just as nice and luxurious," said Jeff Tuckman, inventory manager at Castle Chevrolet in suburban Chicago.
Another Chevrolet dealer in New Jersey puts it more bluntly.
"The fuel economy difference from the other models isn't so great that buyers are saying, 'I'll choose a smaller trunk and pay more money.'"
This isn’t good news for General Motors. The company is making a big bet with mild hybrids, known as eAssist. Last year, GM set an ambitious goal of selling 500,000 electrified vehicles by 2017; the vast majority being mild hybrids.
GM says the take rate for the Malibu Eco is 8% of total Malibu sales, below the initial forecast of 10%.
"Getting the consumer to embrace the incremental gains in fuel efficiency from the mild-hybrid system can be problematic given all the improvements that have been made" on regular gasoline engines. I think GM knows they've got to improve" eAssist's mpg numbers,” sid Alan Baum, a Detroit-area automotive analyst who tracks electrified vehicle sales.