PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Chevrolet executives believe a new, simplified approach to trim levels and option packages on the 2016 Malibu will pave the way for a smooth launch and, ultimately, stronger sales.
For the redesigned sedan that began shipping this month, General Motors streamlined the number of available combinations of trims, engine choices, feature packages and safety bundles to 22, down from more than 150 on the outgoing Malibu. And GM is steering dealers toward just four of those for the vast majority of their orders, emphasizing the ones that are most popular and sell fastest.
The approach is an extension of a program piloted in Washington, D.C., and expanded to other Northeast markets this year. The idea: Stocking dealerships with a relatively simple selection of the fastest-turning models makes it easier to advertise and ensure that the most popular combinations will be on the lot when the customer needs one, said Steve Majoros, director of marketing for Chevy cars.
One core package Chevy is steering dealers to is the LT model -- the second-highest of four trims -- which gets extras such as heated seats. A second core combination would be that same model with an added convenience package for a larger touch screen and wireless phone charging.
Chevrolet’s sales channel has a team that crunches regional sales data and dealership-ordering patterns to zero in on the most popular build combinations. Majoros said dealers’ early Malibu orders have hewed closely to the factory’s recommendations.
“This shows a collective discipline on the part of us and the dealers,” he said during a Malibu media drive here last week. “Before, we had so many different models and options and choices. Now, if we can help make dealers’ business easier while also helping consumers get what they’re looking for quickly, we all win.”
He said the launch of the redesigned Volt that started last month and the upcoming rollout of the next-generation Cruze in the first quarter will follow the same simplification strategy.