By Aaron Bragman on February 11, 2013
Online searches are increasingly important for selling cars, and GM has recognized this, deciding to drop the Chevrolet Malibu's price as much as $770 on some models in an effort to improve the car's position in search results.
The average price reduction for the 2013 model will be about $450, Russ Clark, Malibu marketing director, told Bloomberg News. The move puts the Malibu before rival Toyota Camry in online searches that arranges results by price. "We did it in order to try to generate more potential traffic on the car both on the websites as well as dealers, but I can't tell you that January itself was a big change just because of that," he said. "It recognizes the competitiveness of the segment and ensures that we remain on the shopping list."
The price cuts vary by trim level, but they've now made the starting price $345 lower on the base 1LS trim, putting it at $22,805, including an $810 destination fee. This does bring it in lower than the Camry base model at $23,030, including a $795 destination charge, and has worked to reposition the Malibu in searches on Cars.com.Other trim levels get different price cuts; the 1LT version drops $770 while the 2LT and Eco models fall by $300. Searching by price does indeed now list the 2013 Malibu ahead of the 2013 Camry, but the Malibu still ranks behind other midsize family sedans such as the Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda6 and Volkswagen Passat.
The Malibu has performed less than spectacularly for GM since receiving its latest update, moving to a global platform with a shorter wheelbase than the model it replaced. That lack of interior volume and commensurate bump in price has not helped Malibu move much beyond sales levels seen before the redesign. Autodata reports that sales were up 7.8% in January to Camry's 13% rise; both models are lagging behind the 14% gain seen by the U.S. market overall. Malibu sales were up just 3% in 2012 despite the introduction of the new model, and they were down more than 6% in 2012's fourth quarter. To try and address this, sources have suggested that a quick refresh is underway at GM to make the Malibu more competitive by reworking the rear passenger seats to eke out more room from what is a somewhat cramped space.Related
Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman grew up in the Detroit area, comes from an automotive family and is based in Ann Arbor, Mich. Email Aaron