Friday, 27 July 2007

Hybrid Cars and Vehicles Rolling Over Competition: By Lance Freeman

Hybrid cars and vehicles have taken the market by storm over the past couple of years. This year, Toyota passed Ford for the first time as the number two automaker in the country largely because of the sales of the Prius and other vehicles such as the Camry Hybrid, the Highlander Hybrid and the Lexus 450h GS Hybrid. The anticipated Lexus LS600h L goes on sale in Fall 2007 and is expected to help widen the gap.

Although Toyota is solidly in second place in the U. S. for auto sales, they are neck and neck with General Motors for the number one position in worldwide sales. Depending upon how one crunches the numbers of sales in China, Toyota may already be number one worldwide.

On June 7, 2007, Toyota announced that they have now sold 1,000,000 hybrid cars worldwide since the Prius first rolled out in 2000. But, with increased sales has meant increased competition as well and since Toyota is not the only game in town now when it comes to hybrid cars, Prius sales slipped for the first time ever in the first quarter of 2007.

All the major auto manufacturers now have some form of hybrid vehicle either on the market or heatedly in development. Both GM and Toyota have announced that they will have plug-in hybrid vehicles that will roll out as soon as 2009.

Each of these plug-in hybrids is expected to top 100 mpg in gas mileage and could even top the 125 mpg range. Expect more automakers in the near future to announce their plug-in hybrid cars and vehicles as well as the price of lithium-ion batteries is coming down and the market for this type of vehicle is heating up.

People have turned to hybrid cars in droves in order to get better gas mileage, save money at the pump, reduce our dependency upon foreign oil and clean up the environment by burning less gasoline. In addition, the gasoline that is consumed is from a clean-burning hybrid vehicle optimized to cut down on emissions.

The Honda Insight was the first mass produced hybrid car on the market in the year 2000 and offered an astounding 61 mpg hwy and 49 mgp city at that time. The Toyota Prius, which rolled out six months later, was rated by the government Fuel Economy site as 41 mpg hwy and 42 mpg city.

The EPA rates the 2007 Toyota Prius with a combined gas mileage of 55 mpg while gives the same vehicle a rating of 45 mpg hwy and 48 mpg city. These numbers are confusing to most, but what they do add up to, no matter how one crunches the numbers is vast gasoline savings over the standard 27.5 mpg that current non-hybrid automobiles are supposed to achieve in the U. S. market.

One-third of all greenhouse gases currently emitted in this country come from the transportation industry. Most of the greenhouse gases are emitted in the form of CO2. In 2003, the Department of Energy estimated that the U. S. produces 25 million metric tons of greenhouse gases per year or 23-percent of the world’s total. If the public is willing, hybrid cars and vehicles can have a significant impact in cutting these numbers by as much as half within the next 5 years.

The EPA has now posted their 2008 Greenhouse Gas Scores for various makes and models of cars and hybrid vehicles take the top six slots out of ten in low emissions ratings. Leading the pack for 2008 are the Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid.

Hybrid cars are useful for those who wish to save money at the pump, reduced dependency upon foreign oil, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If enough consumers go hybrid, we’ll all be able to breathe a little easier.

© 2007 All Rights Reserved

Lance Freeman writes about hybrid cars and other subjects with the focus of how to go green through the use of cutting edge technology.

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