FRANKFURT SHOW: Malibu gives Chevrolet opportunity
Malibu goes global this generation
Chevrolet is considering re-entering the UK family sedan (D-segment) market with the Malibu, which is making its European debut at Frankfurt. This is the formerly North American model which is now going global after a redesign by Chevrolet Korea which will build vehicles sold outside the North America.
The company's last effort at this market sector in Europe and many other markets, the Epica (known for a transverse I6 engine), never so much as made a ripple in the UK. But the Malibu - with sharper styling, far higher quality and a 2.2-litre diesel engine option built in Korea and co-developed with Italian company VM - could fare much better, company insiders believe.
Chevrolet will probably bring a couple of cars over to the UK to test reaction and then make a decision. If the feedback is positive the Malibu could be in the UK by this time next year.
"We won't be looking to stack them high and sell them cheap,' Chevrolet UK sources said. "We'd be looking to pitch it at cars slightly larger than a Ford Mondeo but for slightly less money."
The introduction of the Malibu would mean Chevrolet would have small, medium and large cars in Britain. But first it has to launch the Volt, a saloon version of the range-extender electric car that Vauxhall will sell as the Ampera hatchback.
The Volt is powered by an electric motor, but it has a 1.4-litre petrol engine which acts as a generator to overcome the range limitations of battery-only electric cars.
Right-hand-drive production will begin in November, with sales beginning in the UK on 1 March. Initially, UK sales are likely to be measured in hundreds rather than thousands because of supply restrictions. Chevrolet said it had finalised marketing plans in the UK but was keeping them secret until the dealer network knows next month.