Episode 624 – New Chevy Malibu, Volvo’s Stunning Concept, BMW’s ActiveE

April 19th, 2011 at 12:17pm

Runtime 7:36

New York and Shanghai fight it out this week for auto show supremacy. Volvo reveals its stunning Universe concept in China. What will you have to pay to get your hands on BMW’s all-electric ActiveE? All that and more, plus Chevrolet officially takes the wraps off its new Malibu in a global reveal.


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This is Autoline Daily for April 19, 2011. And now the news.

And it’s the battle of the auto shows as New York and Shanghai battle it out this week to see who can grab the most attention from the automotive press. But actually it’s not much of a contest at all. The show in the Big Apple is little more than a regional dealer exhibition, while the Shanghai show is a major industry event heavily attended by the world’s automakers. Yesterday, General Motors and Volkswagen simultaneously introduced new cars at both shows, the Chevy Malibu and VW Beetle, which we had on yesterday’s show.

Today, in Shanghai, General Motors unveiled the new Chevy Captiva, an SUV aimed at the medium to high end of the SUV segment in China. Chevy says it’s designed to create an upscale urban image. The Captiva is powered by a 2.2 liter engine coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission. All wheel drive is available.

Also in Shanghai, Buick unveiled its latest concept vehicle. This is the Envision, an SUV designed and developed in China for the Chinese market. It gets rid of the chunky SUV look in favor of this sleek layout. One reason it looks sleek is the lack of rear view mirrors which have been replaced by miniature cameras that display the rear view on the dashboard. This is a plug-in hybrid that uses a 2.0 liter Direct Injection Turbo.

General Motors also officially unveiled the first car it’s developed in China that will be sold under a new Chinese brand. This is the Baojun 630, a midsize sedan that will be on sale right after the Shanghai show.

And Citroen unveiled its latest concept car, the DS5. It’s kind of a Grand Turismo sport wagon, a 5-passenger, 5-door hatch. Autoblog reports it’s based on the Peugeot 508 platform and should share the same powertrains. Citroen says this will be its first model with a diesel-hybrid powertrain, and will only emit 99g/km of CO2. AWD is available.

Kia unveiled a B-segment car called the K2 in Shanghai. It’s based on the Rio platform but it was designed and engineered specifically for the Chinese market. The car’s grille is similar to the one used on the new Optima and Sportage. Under the hood the K2 offers either a 1.4 Liter or 1.6 Liter gas engine with either a manual or automatic transmission. And fuel economy ranges from 36 MPG to 38 depending on how it’s equipped. The K2 will be built in China and starts production this summer, a 5-door hatchback will also be offered later.

Volvo unveiled a stunning concept called the Universe. The company says it’s what people can expect to see from its next flagship sedan. Volvo describes the exterior as having a coupe-like roofline that borrows design cues from past Volvo models. Inside the Universe features a driver-oriented cockpit with intuitive controls and a touch screen monitor. Not many other details about the car were shared, but Volvo says its design is meant to appeal to customers in all markets.

BMW ActiveE
OK, now to that other auto show going on this week in New York. BMW unveiled its ActiveE. This all-new electric is not only bigger than its predecessor but also incorporates a number of technical upgrades from that original electric.

Only 700 ActiveE vehicles will be available to lease starting this fall, at $499 a month with more than $2,000 down.

Coming up next we’ll look at a one of those cars that was unveiled in both New York and Shanghai, the new Chevy Malibu.

The 2013 Chevy Malibu is an important product for GM. It’s the automaker’s first global midsize sedan. It’ll be sold across six continents in nearly 100 countries! Today’s Malibu is a standout in the segment but that didn’t stop designers and engineers from making a huge list of improvements. Here are a few of its highlights. Like Hyundai did with the Sonata, GM is only offering four-cylinder engines. One of the options includes a 2.5-liter unit with an ESTIMATED 190 horsepower – final numbers are still pending. It’ll be matched to the company’s latest six-speed automatic transmission. Aiding efficiency, the stylish new body should cut through the air with a coefficient of drag close to that of the Volt, which is just .280. Inside it receives Chevy’s new MyLink driver connectivity system and a sculpted dashboard. The 2013 Malibu is also a little bit bigger than today’s version.

Hopefully that’s a pleasant surprise. The 2013 Malibu looks like it’ll hit the sweet spot of the midsize sedan market. And we’ll have more on it in the coming months once details become available.

And that’s today’s report on the top news in the global auto industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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49 Comments to “Episode 624 – New Chevy Malibu, Volvo’s Stunning Concept, BMW’s ActiveE”

  1. Tony Gray Says:

    The Malibu LOOKS nice, but 190 hp doesn’t excite me. A co-workers non-Turbo Regal is a slug and without a jolt of adrenaline, this may be one as well. Hyundai gets by with a 4 banger only, but they have a 274 hp Turbo option!

  2. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I hope the 3 inches wider, for the Malibu, doesn’t translate into more mass; that being said, there will be need for a turbo model to crank up the torque to move it along (or maybe Chevy’s got a diesel up its sleeve). Now that would be news.

  3. pedro fernandez Says:

    you guys have short memories, just 10 yrs ago you would not expect 190 hp from a 4 banger, it had to be a six, now we have 4 cyl capable of that power and you complain, does $4 gas not bother you? I had no idea we had so many Bob’s that don’t mind $5 or $6 gas and a guzzling engine to boot.

  4. HtG Says:

    What’s that? The New York Autoshow is Cars-on-a-Carpet? Fuhgedabahdit

    Does Shanghai have Trump? Does Shanghai have rolling doughnuts? How many languages do drivers speak in Shanghai? Does the mayor of Shanghai want to charge you 400 bucks if you need to be extricated from the rear end of your road rage opponent? Where else can you ask your cop buddies to forget to file a traffic ticket. Oopsie, Shanghai probably has plenty of that. Does Shanghai have Teamsters to expertly install lightbulbs? Would you like to make an investment in swaps on an equity tranche in our Megadeath synthetic CDO? Are you…, sophisticated?

    New York. We got it.

  5. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro fernandez ;

    Oh please , do not tell me Bob is multiplying :o )

    That news I could not take ( assuming Bob isn’t just Nick’s Sock Puppet )

    If its of any comfort I’m seriously reconsidering moving out of the MINI what with $4.22 a gallon premium prices .

    Whether I can afford it ( and I most certainly can ) or not is irrelevant . The question is ” Do I want to afford it ? ” Jury is still out on this one .

    But ……. watching the Dodge Ram (the big one ) Hemi next to me’s fuel bill heading rapidly towards $100 ( how much does that thing hold ??? )

    Well . Have to admit I was feeling just a bit smug while thinking SUCKER !!! ( he wasn’t a tradesman or any other justification for such a truck . Just a wanna be 20 something Red Neck in the middle of the city )

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    HtG like it not my friend, we have made these people the center of the financial world, just look at any of their major cities, they make ours look like relics from WW2. That is where the money is now at the rate we’re going we will become a second tier economic power and most car makers will show their best stuff over there.

  7. tj Martin Says:

    HtG ;

    NYC . best damn city in the US in spite of its shortfalls . Wish I was back there right now .

    But uh ………. no I do not miss those Teamsters that have to carry all my gear in , plug me into the A/C outlet etc. Brother I really hated that aspect of NYC !

    And I do believe once the final announcements are made the NY Auto Show will have the better selection .

    At least its better than being Shanghai’d in Shanghai !

  8. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro & HtG ;

    Ahhhhh …. but have we been reading the recent economy announcements and predictions in the NYTimes of late about China ?

    Seems their Real Estate Bubble is about to explode big time along with a massive wave of Inflation .

    Ooops . Too much Greed Too Quickly . It’ll sink you every time .

    Just wait and see . It aint gonna be pretty … but its a comin !

  9. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro

    In fact us ( the US ) becoming a Second Tier economy to China could well be the best thing thats happened to the US since we became # 1 .

    Sure would take a lot of the Burden off of us .

    But …… most likely that’ll never happen .

    The faster they grow … The harder they crash .

  10. Lex Says:


    Will the new Chevy Captiva SUV be offered for sale in the US? I believe Holden sells it Down Under.

  11. pedro fernandez Says:

    But, TJ just about every thing we buy is made there, can’t even find a god-damned tire not built there unless you go for Michelin or Goodyear and even then, I saw a report not long ago where they caught some company taking Chinese made auto parts and packaging them in “Made in Japan” boxes, makes me furious, as a kid growing up in Castro’s Cuba, we longed for anything that said “Made in USA” because we all knew it was the very best in the world, now I can’t even find pencils made here, they all say ” Made in China” Stop the world, I wanna get off.

  12. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro ;

    Too true too true . I hear your pain as well as the wife and I constantly trying to find that ” Not Made In China ” label . Seems like even Icons such as the UK’s Barbour are made in China these days .

    But ….. I still contend the Piper Will Be Paid when it comes to China’s rapid rampant growth . And when his bill comes in …. oh it is going to be one Major mess . Worldwide most likely

  13. tj Martin Says:

    HtG ;

    Your F1 question from yesterday .

    No I think the Shanghai race was a good one in spite of all the Geek Squad garbage , along with the fact that more than a few of the cars Geek Junk went south when they needed it most .

    Ahh but it was interesting that neither Alonso ( for using his DRS in a non DRS zone ) and Massa ( for crossing the line on the pit exit ) were penalized !

    Seems Bernie’s still up to his old tricks when it comes to Ferrari Favoritism .

    It’ll be interesting to see what Turkey looks like when the race is over .

    We’ll see .

  14. shan Says:

    It is purely mind boggling why GM keeps shooting itself in the foot, i.e., 2013 Malibu having a under-powered 4 banger. Though we don’t know the true specs yet, but unless this car can get amazing gas mileage, it will be another fleet model. Lastly, the Chevy brand truly needs to hire young, innovative designers and get away from the gaudy, gimmicky look that has plagued GM vars for decades.

  15. Steve Says:

    @Pedro #11 – At least we’re a bunch greener now. Where’s your priorities? /sarc off

    It’s going to suck until our dropping standard of living meets the rising Chinese standard of living. Then we maybe have a shot at getting some of our lost ground back.

  16. tj Martin Says:

    @Steve ;

    The only way we’ll get our ground back with China is if ;

    A) They fall flat on their faces ( which they may )


    B) If the US government gets their frickin priorities straight , lowering the Corporate Tax Rate ( we’re the highest in the civilized world ) and lays down a Flat Income Tax rate ( say 10-15% ) with zero deductions .

    As well as penalize companies that move production off shore and start taxing imports the way every other Country taxes our Exports .

  17. HtG Says:

    tj, if you still owned your Maranello Straordinario, the 599 with its 27.7 gallon benzina tank, it would cost you $117 to fill ‘er up.

    ps Who says the world economy didn’t already collapse? You guys seen the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet? To know it to vomit.

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    TJ, on my last trip to Disney’s Epcot world showcase I took the time to check the different products sold at the various pavilions, except for a few items, just about every thing had a made in China label, even supposedly German toys and all kinds of things. the only exception appeared to be the clothing of the individual countries.

  19. HtG Says:

    When I wonder where something is made, I keep in mind that Made in X only means where the final assembly took place. Component are brought together from far afield. High value inputs like high tech are developed in universities and labs around the world. That iphone in your pocket may have been ‘made in china,’ but did you know that the processor core was designed by ARM Holdings of Cambridge England? That the core design was licensed by Apple in the US, who then designed the chip, but that Samsung provided the foundry to physically make that chip in Korea? That China doesn’t capture a lot of the high margin links in the chain?

    Sure, America has given too much ground in well paying manufacturing jobs, but there are reasons that the Germans, Japanese and Koreans source parts and assemble cars in the USA as well. If I didn’t think that financiers and corporations had taken over the political process, I’d say it’s the balance that was key. I don’t say that.

  20. BigCannuck Says:

    I think the Volvo Universe conept is a pretty good looking car. That said, the jury’s still out on the nose. The 3/4 front view, with the lights tight and low on either side of the grille and the hood further up and away from the fender tops reminds me of the old PV544 Amazon, and I dont know that that’s a good thing.

  21. Dale Leonard,Lakewood,Oh Says:

    Is it just me,or does Chevy seem to be going down the old road,with every model looking alike? New Malibu looks like a warmed over Volt.

  22. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    599 ???????

    Give me some credit for good taste would you !!! ( I’m of the opinion that the last truly beautiful Ferrari was the 456 )

    The last F word to reside in my garage was a 365GTC/4 .

  23. tj Martin Says:

    Lets see here .

    Last seven days ;

    Pedro’s wishing me to become a BBQ’d spare rib in a JEEP

    HtG thinks I have ZERO Taste .

    Bob … well ……. is Bob !

    Can it get much worse ?

  24. tj Martin Says:

    HtG ;

    If you think our bottom line looks bad , have a good look at a lot of the EU Countries , especially Germany .

    And Merkel has the Stones to criticize us !

  25. HtG Says:

    just funn’in, tj. Making a point about filling a tank. Was your 365 a twelve cylinder? I don’t know much about them.

    I recall reading in the No Angel book, unless I read it elsewhere, that one trick the Old Man would play on customers was to tell them there was a two year waiting list for a new car. Sorry.

    What’s 12 cylinders feel like, tj?

  26. XA351GT Says:

    It just cost me $47.25 to fill my ZX2 . I kept waiting to see if they’d have the courtesy to give me a reach around ,but no luck. I guess I need to start exercising so I can touch my toes if this keeps up. Thank god I only have to fill up about every 2 weeks. A gas stop now = prison rape. I hope the bastards choke on the money.

  27. HtG Says:

    oop, error. While Ferrari said you had to wait two years, he had a garage full.

    As it concerns German finances, or our own very present abyss at the banks, you don’t even want to know. If the issues weren’t so complicated, I swear there would be blood in the streets. Do you know what a chain of title is, tj? Because it is a detonator on the thermonuclear devices that are our big banks. KaBOOOOOOM!!!! And we don’t want that to happen. We want consumers to get confident that it’s safe to breath. Thinking about cars gets my mind of this shitstorm.

  28. pedro fernandez Says:

    But XA, one of the regulars here claims that high gas prices are good for us, even though we don’t realize it, but in the long run it will be for our own good, I suppose one theory is that we no longer can afford to eat out much, and we all know most restaurant food is bad for you anyways, also you will driving less and thus less risk of dying in a car crash.

  29. cwolf Says:

    Speaking of gas.
    When does the summer blend return to stations? My records show an increase of 2 mpg over the winter stuff.

  30. tj Martin Says:

    HtG ;

    The 365GTC/4 . The more beautiful ( in my opinion ) younger sister of the 365GTB/4 e.g. Daytona . So basically the same running gear in a more GT format .

    What did 12 cylinders feel like ? More to the point what did it sound like . A symphony on wheels . Drove like one as well .

    Ahh the Old Man . Bought mine used , so never had the pleasure of his fictitious waiting lists ( most times it was because some celebrity wanted your car so he sold it to them and made you wait for the next one ) But from all I’ve heard he was a real piece of work to deal with no matter how famous you were or were not .

  31. tj Martin Says:

    @pedro ;

    RE; #28

    If its the regular I think you’re talking about , lets face it . His connection with reality and the world around him is tenuous on his best of days .

    The rest of the time he’s living within the confines of his own self created , self centered and very limited Universe .

    I’m with XA . Petro Rape . It Fits !

  32. tj Martin Says:

    So here’s a conundrum .

    As you know I’m on the fence about dumping the MINI now what with high fuel prices , but am still feeling like its time for a slush box and a bit more space : as well as wanting AWD .

    So I see a Volvo V50 and think : Hey . nice wagon . Plenty roomy enough . So what if its just s tarted up Ford . Its kind of nice and I did love my Audi S4 Avant ( when it worked ) so….

    Then I look at the MPG . Only 20 mpg ??? For a car that size ??? WTF ? The GLK gets 18 and has more space .

    Nuts !

  33. HtG Says:

    tj, did you catch this column about driving for Ferrari? It’s Gordon Kirby talking with Brian Redmon. I found it over at DeLorenzo’s.


    You know creepy? I like that Audi Avant wagon’s looks so, I was tempted to buy the used one in the Mazda lot. But then I remembered.

  34. tj Martin Says:

    HtG ; Smart move . Not buying the Audi that is . I’ll have me a peak at the site as soon as I address Pedro .

  35. tj Martin Says:

    @pedro ;

    Just to be clear on my not wanting to pay these OTT fuel prices .

    What I REALLY don’t want is to ….

    …… watch my neighbors who can’t afford the gas prices lives got to hell in a hand basket

    ……. pay double for groceries and damn near everything else as its all delivered by gas/diesel fueled vehicles .. as well as watch those neighbors have to not feed their kids three squares

    …… pay triple for Air Fares ( did anyone notice prices jumped $100 one way in the last week )

    etc. etc. etc.

    So remind me . Who does Higher Fuel prices benefit ?

    No one as far as I can see .

  36. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG ;

    Read Niki Lauda’s ” My Years With Ferrari ” if you can dig up a copy for an in depth , no holds bared view of what working for the ” Old Man ” was like , even when you won World Championships for the SOB

  37. HtG Says:

    cool, tj

    And may I throw meat to the tiger, pour gas on the fire, turn down the lights for Ava?


    you’ll need your pills.

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Dale Leonard,Lakewood,Oh Says:
    April 19th, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    “Is it just me,or does Chevy seem to be going down the old road,with every model looking alike?”

    Every Chevy looks alike in the same way every BMW looks alike. I guess that’s ok for an “upitty” marque like BMW, but not for Chevy.

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    People are whining about various 3300-3400 pound cars with almost 200 horsepower being underpowered. Consider this: In the “glory days” of the American V-8 in the 60′s, a Ford, Chevy, or Plymouth with the standard V-8 would do 0-60 in about 11 seconds. A Prius is quicker than that, and these “underpowered” 4 cylinder Malibus, Regals, Camrys, or whatever are substantially quicker. I agree that a car that does 0-60 in 8-9 seconds is not “exciting,” but it certainly has plenty of power for normal driving.

  40. HtG Says:

    I find that a car can produce much more excitement slowing down and turning than it does accelerating. I also wonder what people do with 300+hp in front wheel drive cars or if they don’t have traction controls to prevent wheel spin. Tons of hp might be nice to brag about, but in reality it’s the car’s computer that is doling out the power so you don’t get in trouble. I also get irritated waiting for the computer to go through its algorithm when I step on the gas. The curves are where the action is.

    End of Rant.

  41. Edwin Benson Says:

    So, the new Buick concept car is sleek because it replaces the rear view mirror with a camera and in-dash display. Didn’t the Centurion show car from Buick offer the same glimpse of the future back in 1958?

    I guess that everything old really is new again.

  42. Andrew Charles Says:

    The “new” Captiva is a major update of the previous model, not an all-new vehicle. It will tide Chevy over until a new C/D-segment crossover based on the Astra/Cruze arrives in 2-3 years. Consider the Envision a sneak peak at the Buick version. Theta is OK for a midsize crossover like the Equinox, but the Captiva and Antara need to lose a lot of weight. As such GM isn’t going to offer the 7-seat Captiva in the US any time soon. You will get the 5-seat Captiva Sport (aka, Opel Antara), because that model was homologated and sold as the Saturn Vue and is still being built in Mexico for other American markets.

  43. Tony Gray Says:

    Sorry Kit @39. I like acceleration. I had my time with 4 cylinder CJ-5′s, Renault Alliances (yeah, more than one) 2.8 “HO” Celebrity Eurosports and even my big sister’s 305 V8 Nova Concours that exceled at turning gasoline into noise more than forward motion.

    An 84 hp disadvantage to a prime competitor is nothing to dismiss.

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I agree that maybe they should offer a turbo in the new Malibu for those who want a second or two quicker 0-60 and quarter mile times, and are willing the pay for it in purchase price, fuel economy, and extra complexity that might increase long-term maintenance costs. I suspect, though, that Chevy is seeing the low “take rate” of the very good performing 3.6 liter V6 in the current Malibu, and question the need for a “performance” engine option in the new Malibu, at least at launch.

  45. Kit Gerhart Says:

    A four cylinder CJ-5 is not a good comparison to today’s 4 cylinder cars. Most of today’s “mainstream” 4 cylinder sedans do 0-60 in 8-9 seconds. A 4 cyl. CJ would probably take about 20 seconds, or would it even go 60? A 2.8 “HO” Celebrity took about 10-11 seconds, about the same as a Prius.

  46. pedro fernandez Says:

    I remember driving a Mustang ii with a wimpy 4 cyl and I thought that car was just unsafe, it had horrible acceleration, so much so that it was dangerous just trying to merge into traffic.

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeh, those Mustang II 4 cyl. were slow, like about 14-15 seconds 0-60. The fairly recent 4 cyl. Mustangs with the 2.3 weren’t a lot quicker. Even the SVO Mustang with a 2.3 turbo took about 8 sec.0-60, about the same as a non-turbo new Sonata.

  48. Andrew Charles Says:

    The Malibu won’t be just a 4-cylinder. According to GM the Malibu will be offered with:
    “A range of 10 fuel-efficient and powerful 4- and 6- cylinder engines that are available with manual and automatic transmissions that run on gas, diesel or LPG. A turbo engine option will also be available for some markets.”
    The 190 hp 2.5 will follow the 180 2.4 + 15 hp eAssist Malibu ECO, but you can expect other engines to follow.

  49. Bryan Says:

    The Volvo front end looks like a 48 Tucker! Do you agree??