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Emergency facelift for Chevrolet Malibu

Mid-size crisis: The 2012 Malibu has not had the impact Chevrolet was hoping for in the competitive US mid-size segment.

Chevrolet to update mid-size Malibu just 18 months after release due to poor sales

10 Dec 2012

CHEVROLET’S mid-size Malibu, which will launch in Australia next year wearing Holden badges, is set to receive a mid-life update by the end of 2013, just 18 months after its release in the US.

The Malibu refresh comes after poor early media reviews and disappointing sales of the mid-size contender that will be Holden’s replacement for the Korean-built Epica.

The Australian-market Malibu that was revealed in July will feature a different front end design to that of the US version, with Holden opting for a similar open grille to that of the local Cruze, while the Chevrolet maintains the two-piece grille used on most of its models.

Holden has yet to advise GoAuto whether the Australian-spec Malibu will include the latest updates.

General Motors engineers are reportedly rushing to complete the Malibu mid-cycle refresh, as GM CEO Dan Akerson confirmed the update to Automotive News last week.

“We are going to do a mid-cycle enhancement, not dramatic, by this time next year,” he said.

137 center imageLeft: 2013 Holden Malibu.

Released in the US earlier this year, the Malibu has struggled against strong competition in one of the most competitive segments of the US car market.

Toyota’s all-conquering Camry not only remains the premier medium size car in the US, but also the overall top-selling passenger car, a title it has held for the last 15 years.

The Malibu has also had to contend with a resurgent Honda Accord, the Nissan Altima that will arrive in Australia next year, and the Ford Fusion that is sold here as Mondeo.

In the 10 months to the end of October, Toyota had sold 344,714 Camrys, well ahead of the Accord (276,196), Altima (258,663) and Fusion (206,855).

Hyundai’s Sonata, sold in Australia as an i45, sold 192,119 units to the Malibu’s 189,094, leaving the Chevrolet sixth in the mid-size segment, despite a 4.0 per cent rise in October.

Holden has had mixed fortunes with its mid-size cars over the years, with the 1980s Camira panned for poor quality and the Apollo of the 1990s overlooked as simply a badge-engineered Camry.

The Opel-sourced Vectra in 1997 provided solid sales, but they sunk again with the introduction of the second-generation model in 2003 when Holden priced the car to compete with European cars.

Holden then turned to GM’s Daewoo in South Korea for the Epica, but it was a critical and sales disappointment.

Despite the sales results this year, Mr Akerson remains upbeat about the prospects of the Malibu, telling Automotive News “it’s a good car it will do OK”.

“It is a tough segment and it’s one we need to be successful in,” he said. “We’ll see how it plays out.”

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