2010 Detroit: Chevrolet Malibu to receive improvements to combat Ford Fusion

The Chevrolet Malibu will receive improvements in advance of its next redesign in effort to revive its flagging sales.

“From the product development side we need to take a good look at…the Ford Fusion,” said Jim Federico, who heads up midsize vehicle development at General Motors.

The Malibu was last redesigned for 2008 and debuted to strong reviews and sales, but has lost ground in the face of intensified competition, particularly from the significantly refreshed 2010 Ford Fusion. Sales have continued to slump even as overall vehicle sales have improved.

“Malibu continues to do OK, [but] it’s not bumping back the way we would like,” Federico added.

GM has recently identified the Malibu, along with the Cadillac CTS, as a key underperforming product, but it was unclear whether the efforts to revive it would be focused on marketing or product improvements.

“It’s both,” Federico said.

He would not go into detail as to the nature or depth of possible changes, but confirmed we would see them before the introduction of the redesigned 2012 Malibu, which Chevrolet has already previewed to the press.