GM Korea launched the Malibu, a midsize sedan of the Chevrolet series, in the local market a week ago.
Though the company is pinning its hopes on the Malibu to grab more than 10 percent of the Korean market, data showed that the sedan fell behind the similar sedans from 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 many Korean households have been struggling with high gas prices, GM Korea dealerships are bound to be asked about fuel efficiency by customers.
The Malibu was not an exception in the evaluation by many local customers that cars produced by U.S. automakers have low fuel efficiency.
People look at GM’s new mid-sized sedan Malibu. (Yonhap News)
In engine performance, the Malibu 2.0 has a maximum power output of 141 horsepower.
The figure is quite low compared to the 165 horsepower of the 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.
Yet, the prices of the Malibu are higher than those of the three competitors.
The Malibu ranges from 21.85 million ($19,000) to 28.21 million won while the three sedans range from 20.2 million to 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 is 29.6 million won.
Company executives said GM Korea vehicles’ real fuel efficiency is higher than the standardized 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 post 8.92 percent for the first nine months of 2011.
“(The Malibu) will enable us to achieve a more solid brand stance and bolster our sales,” he said.
By Kim Yon-se (firstname.lastname@example.org)