GM Korea's planned launch of the new Malibu next month is expected to intensify competition in the midsize sedan market here where major automakers are already clashing with their latest popular models, industry sources said Monday.
The midsize sedan market here is being dominated by such popular models as Hyundai Motor's Sonata and Kia Motors's K7. Recently, Renault Samsung Motors unveiled the SM6, which has been drawing a better-than-expected market response.
|GM Korea's Malibu midsize sedan (Yonhap)|
According to industry sources, GM Korea, the local unit of U.S. carmaker General Motors, has recently started test production of the latest version of the Malibu at its Bupyeong plant, west of Seoul, with a plan to unveil it next month.
The new Malibu is the ninth generation of the midsize sedan that made its debut in the 1960s. Over the intervening decades, its cumulative sales have surpassed 10 million units in 25 countries.
Ahead of its planned launch here, the new Malibu already hit showrooms in the U.S. late last year. Its January and February sales there jumped 24.1 percent and 53.3 percent on-year, the latest data showed.
Compared with the current model, the new Malibu is 68 mm longer, but the overall weight is 130 kg lighter, which the company claims helps maximize its fuel efficiency.
In particular, the car is 4,923 mm long, the longest among same-class vehicles, providing more room for passengers, it added.
The new Malibu's launch is expected to intensify the already fierce competition in the midsize sedan market where another newcomer, the SM6, is gaining marked ground.
"It is possible that the new Malibu along with the recently-launched SM6 will result in expanding the whole midsize sedan market by intensifying competition and luring customers who would be interested in other segment vehicles," a market expert said.
The latest data showed that Hyundai Motor's Sonata dominates the midsize market, with its March sales reaching 7,053 units, trailed by Renault Samsung's SM6 with 6,751 units. The current model of the Malibu saw its sales in March stand at 786 units. (Yonhap)