It may be named after an exclusive Los Angeles beach community, but the Chevrolet Malibu is going global. In a big way.
Chevy has just released a teaser photo and a few details of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ concept car it will unveil at the Auto Shanghai 2011 show, just 36 hours before media previews open at the New York Auto Show.
UPDATE: GM has just released this interior photo of the Malibu via Facebook.
2013 Chevrolet Malibu
2013 Chevrolet Malibu
In the footsteps of ... Hyundai?
For green buyers concerned with fuel economy, the most intriguing news in the teaser press release has got to be the engines.
They will be, says Chevy, a "global family of fuel-efficient and powerful four-cylinder" motors, mated to six-speed transmissions (automatic for the U.S., manuals for the rest of the world).
2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T, La Jolla, California, October 2010
In other words, it's likely Chevrolet won't engineer the next Malibu to offer any V-6 engine option. This has several advantages, among them lighter weight and more flexibility in packaging.
But Chevy will hardly be a pioneer if they offer only fours in their 2013 midsize sedan; Hyundai has been doing the same since the launch of the 2010 Sonata at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show.
European handling, global sales
In line with its launch in China--and future introduction to almost 100 markets on six continents, including much of Asia and Europe--Chevy says it will give the new Malibu "European-inspired driving characteristics."
The 2010 Chevrolet Malibu was the brand's best-selling car model, although its sales of almost 200,000 are half those of the Silverado pickup, Chevy's most popular vehicle. It was named North American Car of the Year in 2008, the first year of its most recent redesign.
2011 Chevrolet Malibu
The Malibu was launched in 1964 as a high-end model of the Chevrolet Chevelle midsize sedan. The 2013 model that will launch next year will be the nameplate's eighth generation.
About all that's discernible of the 2013 Malibu's styling are the taillights, which have a distinctly Camaro-esque design. There also appears to be a stronger body crease below the beltline (the bottom of the windows) than in the current model.
All about emerging markets
Chevrolet is swiftly becoming a global brand to face off directly with Ford in the worldwide mass market for "D-segment," or midsize, cars. It became a volume brand in Europe less than 10 years ago, with the bowtie first applied to models from Korea's Daewoo, which GM bought.
Traffic in China
But by next year, emerging markets--China, Russia, India, Brazil (the 'CRIB' countries), along with Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Uzbekistan--will represent more than half the Chevies sold globally.
Which is why small-block fans and owners with misty-eyed memories of their '64 Chevelles should listen to Rick Scheidt, vice president of Chevrolet.
“Whether the Malibu is sold in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, or Australia," Scott said, "it has been engineered from the ground up to meet the needs of customers around the world.”
In other words: It's not your father's Chevrolet.