For many car shoppers, the eco-friendly appeal of a car may determine whether or not they decide to take a second glance at a vehicle. For the record, these people probably don’t own a Cadillac CTS-V. But while the Caddy may not have an ecological scorecard worth talking about, the Chevy Malibu is a different story: 63 percent of Malibu buyers, of which there were nearly 15,000 in February of 2013, state that “environmental friendliness” is an “extremely” or “very” important reason behind their purchase. For Malibu Eco buyers, this percentage jumps to 78.
But the environmental friendliness of the Malibu extends well beyond its fuel economy marks. For instance, its assembly is a relatively green process: believe it or not, 85 percent of the Malibu is recyclable. On top of this, GM’s landfill-free plant in Toledo, Ohio manufactures the most common transmission for the Malibu, and all waste from daily operations at the facility is reused, recycled, or converted to energy in some way. In addition, the plant is powered 17 percent by renewable landfill gas and a 1.2MW rooftop set of solar panels. In addition, the Malibu’s highest-volume engine is produced at GM’s Tonawanda plant in New York — another landfill-free facility. A local Chamber of Commerce recently recognized the Tonawanda plant for implementing and operating a ‘green’ and sustainable fashion. Tonawanda’s environment efforts include wildlife habitat development, and installing electric-vehicle charging stations in the employee parking lots. Reinforcing the midsize sedan’s environmentally-friendly story is the fact that most Malibus are assembled in Fairfax, Kansas, a plant that was a a 2012 Pollution-Prevention Award winner, recognized by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for its energy-reduction and recycling efforts. The facility recycles 91 percent of its daily waste.
Moreover, each of the three plants most involved in the production of the Malibu recently surpassed the U.S. EPA’s Energy Star For Industry standard, which required them to cut energy intensity by more than 10 percent. Their CO2-equivalent reduction of 103,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases combined is comparable to the annual energy use of about 5,000 average U.S. homes.
The Malibu also makes use of recycled material, such as shredded tires from vehicle testing at GM’s Milford Proving Ground. These are combined with recycled plastics to make baffles that reflect air and water under the hood; material that can’t be reused in some way in vehicle manufacturing doesn’t go to waste, either: scrap from the production of sound absorbers used to make the car very quiet is reprocessed to insulate coats that also double as sleeping bags for the homeless.
The end result is clear: less material and non-reusable energy goes into the making of the Malibu, less material will end up in landfills once individual Malibus reach their respective end-of-life, and the scrap from the manufacturing process goes to help society. How’s that for green?