2009 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid
General Motors missed the start of the hybrid revolution, and admits it by their own accounts. When the first generation Toyota Prius was first launched GM decided not to pursue a similar course at that time. In 2007, after Toyota had sold nearly 1,000,000 Priuses, GM entered the fray by unveiling the Volt concept. The Volt would be GM's effort at leapfrogging the Prius by producing a pure electric car that used gasoline only in rare circumstances as a backup generator for drives beyond 40 miles.
The automaker also began launching other hybrid vehicles. They've developed a powerful 2-mode hybrid system best suited for trucks and large SUVs, and can be found in the Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon, Cadillac Escalade, and Chevy Silverado. They also developed a mild hybrid system which was applied to the Chevy Malibu sedan. The system increases the fuel efficiency from a base of 22 MPG city | 33 MPG hwy to 26 MPG city | 34 MPG highway. It uses GM’s first generation mild belt-alternator-started hybrid system. The price premium for that modest increase in MPG, however, did not make sense to buyers and very few units we sold. As such GM terminated the vehicle.
According to Ed Peper who is North American Manager of Chevrolet, GM learned another lesson from this mistake. "Consumers are not going to pay for (a hybrid version) unless they can get significant better fuel economy," he said.
So it turns out the newly emerged from bankruptcy GM will not only try to leapfrog the Prius with the Volt slated for launch in 2010, but is also apparently developing a dedicated hybrid.
"We are trying to work towards a dedicated hybrid," admits Peper. "We've got to make sure it has significantly better fuel economy than a non-hybrid."