General Motors Co., in an effort to make its Chevrolet Malibu more appealing to online car shoppers, lowered the car’s price by hundreds of dollars to compete with better-selling mid-sized sedans.
GM lowered the prices of Malibu by as much as $770 as the automaker seeks to improve its results in a segment that includes five of the 20 most popular vehicles in the United States.
The average price was reduced by about $450, Russ Clark, Malibu’s marketing director, said in an interview on the sidelines of the Chicago Auto Show.
“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 entry-level Malibu’s starting price was reduced by $345 to $21,995, which excludes an $810 freight charge, GM said.
The Toyota Camry, the top-selling car in the United States, begins at $22,235 before a $795 handling fee, according to Toyota Motor Corp.’s website.
Malibu U.S. sales rose 7.8 percent in January while the Camry increased 13 percent.
GM engineers and designers also are working on speedy design changes to the Malibu, including making the back seat feel roomier, two people familiar with the effort have said.
Those changes should be introduced in third quarter, said the people, who asked not to be identified revealing private plans.
The battle for mid-sized car sales in the United States is one of the bigger fronts in the three-way fight among GM, Toyota and Volkswagen AG for global sales leadership.
Toyota, helped by a strong recovery following production problems in 2011 tied to natural disasters, overtook GM last year to again become the best-selling automaker in the world.
GM finished No. 2, outselling VW by more than 130,000 deliveries.
VW aims to become the world’s biggest by 2018.
The current Malibu was introduced over several months in 2012, beginning with the pricier Eco edition followed by higher-volume versions in October.
U.S. sales of the Malibu declined 6.1 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the same period in 2011. Malibu deliveries for the year rose 3 percent to 210,951.