The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is of utmost importance for not just the Chevrolet brand, but General Motors as a whole. GM is focused on getting Chevrolet back in the car game, and hasn’t had a formidable challenger to the likes of Accord and Camry in many years. The 2016 Malibu looks the part, but the most important aspect may lie in the use of the Epsilon II platform.
The Epsilon II platform not only allows for a lengthier wheelbase, providing greater rear-seat space, but it was also the starting point for the car to go on a major weight loss. The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu has dropped nearly 300 pounds from its curb weight, a great achievement for a vehicle of this size. AutoGuide was able to understand further how Jesse Ortega, chief Malibu engineer, and his team managed such a colossal drop in weight.
Larger vehicles may tout their weight loss, but as we said, 300 pounds is a big deal when talking about a midsize sedan. There isn’t much heft to cut out initially, so engineers had to get crafty when approaching the 2016 Malibu. In fact, 120 pounds was removed from the actual structure itself.
The first piece of the weight loss puzzle is the absence of a V6 option. The car was engineered to exclusively offer four-cylinder engines, which means there’s no unnecessary weight sitting around if a particular car isn’t optioned with a V6 engine.
“One of the techniques we’ve been bringing forward is optimizing around lower variations. We weren’t going to try to be an architecture that could do everything, because at the end of the day you’re just carrying that mass,” said Ortega.
Ortega and the Malibu team used advanced computer modeling to pinpoint where the use of high strength steel was absolutely necessary, and where it could be avoided. This means lighter conventional steel makes up nearly the entire car, minus a few areas like the hood, which utilizes aluminum.
“We have a computer-aided approach, which we call multi-disciplinary optimization and you create the structure in math and then you run all the load cases, whether they’re crash, whether they’re stiffness, whether they’re structural, whatever they are, and then the computer goes in and says you can take mass out of here but you need to add here,” Ortega said.
With the help of computers and new efficient powertrains, the 2016 Malibu finally touts superb fuel economy, with the 2016 Malibu Hybrid offering greater efficiency than its main rivals. More importantly, though, the use of conventional steel translates to cost savings for the consumer. Foregoing pricey materials keeps the price lower, and creates a better value proposition to customers. And GM needs those customers more than ever.
We’ll be watching closely as the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is scheduled to go on sale in the fourth-quarter of 2015.