GM has unveiled a new Chevrolet Malibu for the 2016 model year, and it includes a hybrid version that apparently leverages technologies from the Chevy Volt. That’s a very good idea, and though I wish this hybrid had been a plug-in to squeeze even more fuel savings out of it, it’s still a significant improvement over the gasoline-only version, though that one still has a few fuel saving features, like a 1.5L turbo engine with stop/start technology (37 MPG highway, 27 city).
These things are subjective, but I think the new Malibu looks relatively good, and hopefully the hybrid version will provide another decent choice to people who need a car but want to be frugal with fuel (though the ultimate is of course to go fully electric). And if you don’t really need a car, well, don’t even look at this! Walk, bike, take transit! But I know that these options are not available everywhere (especially those in rural areas)…
GM’s fuel economy estimates are 48 MPG in the city, 45 MPG on the highway, and 47 mpg combined. If that’s correct and confirmed by the EPA, that’s getting closer to a Prius, though for a bigger, and more powerful vehicle (though the current generation Prius is getting old, and the next generation will hopefully improved on the current 50 MPG rating). I wish the battery (more on that below) was a bit bigger to further improve efficiency, but it might have been kept small for cost reasons.
Above is the hybrid drivetrain, which includes two electric motors and a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine. The motors are a modified version of what can be found in the Chevrolet Volt, along with the power electronics and a blended regenerative braking system.
The drivetrain can produce 182 horsepower (136 kW) with both electric and gas combined.
Above you can see the 80-cell, 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that stores electricity. It can power the Malibu hybrid at up to 55 MPH on electricity alone, and above that or at high loads, or when the battery is depleted, the gasoline engine will automatically turn on to either take over or share the task with the electric motors.