DETROIT – General Motors expects nearly all of its volume Chevrolet dealers in the U.S. to have “at least one, and maybe two” units of the new-for-’13 Malibu Eco model on their lots when the car’s big national advertising campaign kicks off Mach 11.

“We’ll have enough cars for people, no question,” says Malibu marketing chief Russ Clark during a media briefing on the campaign here.

GM launched production of the Malibu Eco, which uses the auto maker’s fuel-saving eAssist powertrain, at its Fairfax, KS, assembly plant last month. Builds to augment Fairfax production will begin this summer at the Detroit-Hamtramck facility.

Units are just starting to trickle in to dealers, and about two-thirds of all 3,000 Chevy stores will have one vehicle when the television ads begin ahead of the annual selection show for the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. basketball tournament.

“No dealer will have a lot of them,” Clark tells WardsAuto. “The bulk of the segment is the lower trim levels. We know that going in.”

The $26,000 Malibu Eco comes as a well-equipped model, priced about $2,000 more than the sweet spot in the segment. Those models begin arriving at Chevy dealers in the summer.

Since launching in mid-January, GM has sold 350 Malibu Ecos among the 19,987 units delivered in the year’s first two months, according to WardsAuto data. The auto maker closed February with 56,881 Malibus in stock for a 71 days’ supply.

GM moved up production of the Malibu by six months to get ahead of the redesigned midsize cars coming in the summer and fall from rivals such as Ford, Toyota and Honda.

The Malibu Eco powertrain, which marries old-fashioned internal-combustion technology with electrical assist and stop/start technology to save fuel, was ready for the car after being launched last year on the Buick LaCrosse, which is underpinned by the same platform.

The auto maker will continue selling the current Malibu, launched in 2007 as an ’08 model, until the rest of the redesigned models arrive.

GM today also announces lease terms for the Malibu Eco of $249 a month, with a $1,995 down payment, for 39 months and 12,000 miles (19,312 km).

Clark says although buyers in the segment traditionally shop fuel economy, the recent run-up in gasoline prices to an average of more than $3.76 per gallon makes the Malibu Eco launch timely.

jamend@wardsauto.com