PALISADES, N.Y. — Chevrolet will limit the first shipments of the hybrid version of its redesigned Malibu to 11 key U.S. markets in the Northeast and on the West Coast.
The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid goes on sale next month. But dealers in other parts of the country may have to wait until the 2009 model year to get the hybrid mid-sized sedan, Chevrolet says.
At a press event here last week, Chevrolet executives declined to offer 2008 sales and production targets for the Malibu Hybrid. But they said they anticipated low supplies at launch.
"There is a limited number," said Jim Brown, Malibu product manager. "We don't want them in low-volume dealerships where they will sit for a long time."
Washington, D.C., will be the first market to get the Malibu Hybrid, said Dave Klemm, sales and marketing manager of Chevrolet's Northeast region. Other markets slated for the first round of distribution are New York; Philadelphia; Boston; Baltimore; Seattle; San Francisco; San Diego; Los Angeles; Sacramento, Calif.; and Portland, Ore.
Eventually, Klemm said, the car will be available to all dealerships that meet Chevrolet's requirements for trained technicians, tooling and other standards.
"Every dealer will have the opportunity to order one," Klemm said. "But we're starting out in these import-dominated markets."
Greg Heinrich, who heads Chevrolet's national dealer council, said the brand notified the group in advance about its distribution plan for the Malibu Hybrid. Heinrich, who owns Fairway Chevrolet in Las Vegas, said he agrees with Chevrolet's logic.
"In those markets, they'll get the most visual impact," Heinrich said. "It makes sense to me that we go into markets where we're getting whupped."
Gordon Stewart, who owns four Chevrolet dealerships in Southern and Midwest markets, said "hybrids are selling very, very well everywhere."
But he said the Malibu distribution plan was "not surprising, given the short supply."
The Malibu Hybrid will have a sticker price of $22,790, including shipping. That price is about $1,800 higher than for a similarly equipped, gasoline-powered Malibu. But Brown noted that buyers of the Malibu Hybrid may qualify for a $1,300 federal tax credit.
Jamie LaReau contributed to this report