Image by geognerd via FlickrGM has pulled the plug on their mild hybrid Malibu, citing "slow sales that has led to a backlog of inventory on dealer lots." (Source: WSJ)
A GM spokesman said the company made the decision because of a "sufficient stock of 2009s," and said starting up production in the near future is "possible, but not likely." The company will continue to make hybrid versions of the Malibu for fleet buyers, but it is uncertain if GM will ever produce the Malibu hybrid for retail consumers ever again.
A base Malibu, carrying a four-cylinder engine, costs about $22,300, and a hybrid version, which uses a battery to help propel the vehicle, is about $4,000 more. Both models achieve 34 miles-per-gallon in highway driving, according to GM.
The comparison they are making is a bit unfair, since the Malibu hybrid does have more options and is more comparable to the six cylinder Malibu. But people who think fuel efficiency is a priority are going to make this comparison. But more importantly, they are going to look at the Prius (or Civic Hybrid or even the new Insight). When you can get a Prius or Insight for a similar price, and get 10-20 mpg more, which car are you going to select?
And that's the problem with mild hybrids. Too expensive for what they deliver. Would you pay even $1,000 more for a car that only gives you a couple mpgs in the city? For some reason, GM thought they could compete with the full hybrids from Toyota and Honda by making mild hybrids. It just doesn't work.
I suppose they could stand back and say they were making hybrids, but no one was buying it. Not when they could walk down the street to the Honda or Toyota dealership and see the results they were getting with their full hybrid technology.