A day after the unveiling of all-new Chevrolet Malibu, and even though it is nearly two years away from its launch, GM announced the ECO version of the car.
2013 Malibu ECO makes use of a range of fuel-saving eAssist technologies to become the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan in its 100-year history at 26 city / 38 highway mpg rating. The ECo will hit the market in summer 2012.
The car’s eAssist features lithium-ion battery and an electric motor-generator to enable regenerative braking electric assist and start-stop functionality. It is efficiently sized, weighing only 65 pounds (29 kg). That’s only part of the plan though, as the aerodynamics are also tweaked for better efficiency. Changes including underbody aero enhancements and electronically controlled shutters in the lower grille. They close at higher speeds to push more air over and around the vehicle,reducing drag.
2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO also comes with a handy ECO gauge in the cluster which gives you eco-driving advices as you drive along! It comes with an Auto Stop Indicator on the tachometer informs the driver when the engine is in start-stop mode.
“The Malibu ECO is a smart choice for customers who want excellent fuel economy without the price premium of popular hybrid sedans,” said Rick Scheidt, vice president of Chevrolet marketing. “The Malibu ECO’s 38-mpg highway estimate is comparable with those hybrids. Malibu ECO exemplifies Chevrolet’s drive to use technology that delivers high-value, gas-friendly performance,” said Scheidt. “In fact, the Malibu ECO delivers the fuel economy of a compact car in a midsize sedan.”
Here’s complete details on the eAssist and the car’s clever aerodynamic features:
Malibu ECO’s eAssist system is mated to a 2.4L Ecotec direct-injection four-cylinder engine and next-generation six-speed automatic transmission. The 2.4L engine is efficient and lightweight, featuring dual-overhead cams, direct injection, continuously variable intake and exhaust timing and electronic throttle control, as well as a lightweight aluminum cylinder block and cylinder head. It is rated at an estimated 180 horsepower (134 kW) and is a variant of the same engine that was recognized as one of Ward’s Ten Best Engines in 2010.
Along with the Ecotec 2.4L and six-speed transmission, the eAssist system uses power stored in the air-cooled, lithium-ion battery to provide needed electrical boost in various driving scenarios, optimizing engine and transmission operation. An advanced 115V lithium-ion battery and latest-generation 15-kW motor-generator unit help increase fuel economy through:
- Regenerative braking, which provides up to 15 kW of electricity to charge the battery
- Providing up to 15 hp (11 kW) of electric power assistance during heavier acceleration
- Using electricity instead of gasoline when stopped, with automatic and smooth engine start-stop functionality
- Aggressive fuel cut-off during deceleration down to zero mph for added fuel savings
- Intelligent charge/discharge of the high-voltage battery.
The eAssist system captures up to 15kW of energy that would be normally lost during braking and uses it to recharge the lithium-ion battery. The system also shuts down fuel delivery in certain deceleration conditions, further improving fuel economy. While in fuel shut-off mode, the motor-generator unit continues spinning along with the engine to provide immediate and smooth take-off power when the driver presses on the accelerator. As the vehicle comes to a stop, the engine’s start-stop function is active when the motor-generator unit brings the engine to a smooth stop to position it properly for a smooth restart when the brake is released.
A hill-assist system captures brake pressure to help keep the vehicle stationary when eAssist’s start-stop function is activated on a moderate or steep grade, allowing the driver to accelerate more smoothly from a stop.
Malibu ECO’s eAssist power pack brings together the lithium-ion battery, the integrated power inverter and 12V power supply. It is located in the trunk, behind the rear seat. The electric motor-generator is mounted to the engine in place of the alternator to provide both motor assist and electric-generating functions through an engine belt-drive system. The motor-generator is a high-performance, compact induction motor that is liquid-cooled for increased performance and efficiency. An electric fan cools the power pack, drawing air from a vent located behind the rear seat.
Thanks to eAssist technology, which also enables a numerically lower final drive ratio, the Malibu ECO can travel as much as 550 miles between fill-ups, despite having only a 15.8-gallon gas tank.
Malibu ECO – and the entire 2013 Malibu lineup – was designed to be aerodynamically efficient, with a coefficient of drag near the standout performance of the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle.
Aerodynamic design engineers removed about 60 counts of wind drag from the new Malibu, compared to its predecessor. Malibu spent hundreds of hours in GM’s wind tunnel, fine-tuning the form to maximize fuel efficiency. For example, engineers shaped Malibu’s front corners so that air runs close and uninterrupted along the body sides to the rear of the vehicle.
Malibu ECO is among the first in the midsize segment with a fuel-saving, active shutter system in the lower grille. The Malibu ECO’s active shutter system automatically closes airflow through the lower intake opening when air intake is least needed. When closed, the shutter system enhances aero performance by redirecting airflow around the front of the vehicle and down the sides, rather than through it. The shutter is open or closed based on engine coolant temperature and speed. For example, the shutters open when the car is traveling up a hill, pulling a trailer, or in hot city driving; the shutters close at highway speeds when engine cooling is less required.
- Other aerodynamic features on the Malibu ECO include:
- Outside rearview mirrors designed to maximize aerodynamic efficiency
- Taillamps are shaped for aero performance without design penalty
- Four underbody panels – more commonly found on premium-priced cars – cover approximately 50 percent of the lower portion of the vehicle and provide an aerodynamically clean flow path under the vehicle
Standard 17-inch wheels and low-rolling-resistance tires engineered to improve fuel economy.