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Malibu trails competitors in price, performance

GM Korea launched its sales of the Malibu, a midsize sedan of Chevrolet series, in the local market a week ago.

Though the company is pinning hope on the Malibu for its goal to grab more than 10 percent of the Korean market, data showed that the sedan fell behind the similar sedans of major competitors in terms of fuel efficiency, engine performance and price competitiveness.

According to each company’s data for sales at dealerships, the gasoline-fueled Malibu with an engine capacity of 2.0 liters posted the lowest fuel efficiency of 12.4 kilometers per liter among the four major sedans.

The three other popular sedans with the same engine capacity -- the Sonata of Hyundai Motor, the K5 of Kia Motors and the SM5 of Renault Samsung Motors -- have the same efficiency of 13 kilometers per liter.

As a large portion of Korean households have been suffering heavy burdens from high oil prices, GM Korea dealerships have no choice but to be asked many questions on the fuel efficiency sector from consumers.

The Malibu was not an exception from the evaluation among many local consumers that cars produced by U.S. automakers have low fuel efficiency.

In the engine performance, the Malibu 2.0 has the maximum power output of 141 horsepower.

The figure is quite low compared to the 165 horsepower, simultaneously held by the three sedans -- Sonata 2.0, K5 2.0 and SM5 2.0.

While the three competitors recorded a maximum torque of 20.2 kilogram-meters, the Malibu could muster 18.8.

Still, the prices of the Malibu models are higher than those of the three competitors.

The Malibu models’ prices range from 21.85 million ($19,000) and 28.21 million won while the three sedans’ prices range between 20.2 million and 28 million won.

The price tag of the Malibu 2.4 model comes to 31.72 million won while the maximum price of the three sedans’ turbo-engine models remains at 29.6 million won.

Company executives had said GM Korea vehicles’ real fuel efficiency is higher than the standardized numerical figures.

In August, GM Korea CEO Mike Arcamone stressed that the automaker could see “double-digit market share” in Korea at the end of this year during a news conference.

GM Korea saw its market share climb to 9.5 percent for the first seven months of 2011, from a yearly share of 8.6 percent in 2010.

“(The Malibu) will enable us to achieve a more solid brand stance and bolster our sales,” he said.



By Kim Yon-se
(kys@heraldcorp.com)
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