Chevrolet drops the mild-hybrid Malibu for the 2014 model year

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 16, 2013

Chevrolet has discontinued the mild-hybrid Malibu for the 2014 model year. This means that there won’t be a 2014 Chevrolet Malibu equipped with General Motors’ e-Assist mild-hybrid system. This model was previously available under the Malibu Eco nameplate. This is quite a departure from GM’s initial plans, which initially called for a variant of the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu that has the eAssist powertrain.

Last August, there was still a plan for this model to be introduced. It was supposed to be priced at $26,670 (which includes destination costs). Unfortunately, this plan has been scrapped.

Last Wednesday at a regional press event held in Michigan, Todd Pawlik, the chief engineer for the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu, said that the hybrid model is officially discontinued because of the new base powertrain configuration, which consists of a revised 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a new start/stop system, offering mostly the same fuel economy as an eAssist-equipped Chevrolet Malibu.

The EPA has rated the new 2.5-liter driveline at 25/36 mpg city/highway, and a combined rating of 29 mpg. In comparison, the 2013 Malibu Eco hybrid was rated at 25 mpg mpg city, 37 mpg highway, and 29 mpg combined.

GM has said that its experience with the eAssist system has helped expedite the development of the 2014 Malibu’s new start/stop system but the two drivelines don’t have any common components and aside from shutting down the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop, they operate in totally different ways.

The new start/stop system simply stops the engine while it continues to power to its electrical architecture. The same is done by eAssist but its motor/generator assembly, which replaced the conventional starter motor, also helped in giving a short boost during hard acceleration. In addition, there’s a difference in battery configuration.

Another issue was the large 115-volt lithium-ion pack placed in the trunk of the 2013 Malibu Eco, sacrificing almost two cubic feet of cargo space. In comparison, the 2014 Malibu 2.5’s start-stop system is equipped with a small, 12-volt, motorcycle-grade lead-acid AGM battery, which serves mainly to stabilize voltage while the engine is being restarted, neatly integrated into the trunk’s side wall without taking up too much space.

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