General Motors today unveiled an Eco version of the next-generation Chevrolet Malibu that the automaker says will get an estimated 38 mpg on the highway, a level reached by many conventional hybrids.
The Malibu Eco will have GM's eAssist technology, a start-stop system to be introduced this year in the Buick LaCrosse and Regal sedans.
The redesigned Malibu, which goes on sale early next year as a 2013 model, will be the first Chevrolet to get the fuel-saving technology.
Mark Reuss, GM's North American president, said the relatively inexpensive technology gives buyers an affordable option to significantly boost fuel economy without having to buy a conventional hybrid or plug-in hybrid such as the Chevrolet Volt.
"Not everyone can afford those. We know that," Reuss told reporters today after unveiling the Eco version of the next-generation Malibu at the New York auto show.
The new mid-sized sedan was unveiled Monday at the Shanghai auto show.
"The customer base finds cars like this very attractive because they pay for themselves," Reuss said.
He said it will be the most fuel-efficient mid-sized car Chevrolet has ever made. Prices for the 2013 Malibu won't be announced until closer to its launch. GM estimates the Eco version will get 38 mpg highway/26 mpg city.
Reuss said the Malibu Eco will beat many conventional hybrids, including the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid, based on GM's mpg estimates. An official EPA rating hasn't been assigned.
Sometimes called a "mild hybrid, the eAssist system uses power stored in a lithium ion battery and an electric motor generator to give a boost to the 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine when the car accelerates.
A start-stop feature also saves fuel when the vehicle stops, while regenerative braking transfers electricity to the battery.