Hybrid automobiles are becoming more and more popular as gas prices continue an upward climb. Hybrid car manufacturers are producing hybrid versions of their most popular models in addition to hybrid-only models such as the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius.
Honda began the hybrid car manufacturers revolution with the Honda Insight in 1999. Since then, they have added the Honda Civic to their lineup. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Civic has the highest fuel economy in its class, with a fuel-economy rating of 48 mpg city and 47 mpg highway using an automatic transmission. With a manual transmission, the numbers show 46/51 mpg city/highway.
The ever-popular Accord has also been added to the hybrid car manufacturer’s roster. A perennial favorite, Honda is looking for the Accord to boost its already solid sales numbers. The Accord will be available with a V6 engine sporting 255 horsepower along with the increased fuel efficiency. Early estimates show a 37 miles-per-gallon performance on the highway and 29 mpg city.
General Motors is another one of the hybrid car manufacturers aiming to capitalize on the hybrid car market. In 2005, GMC released the GMC Sierra 1500 Extended Cab with hybrid capability on both two-wheel and four-wheel drive models. It will save up to 10% more fuel than its conventional gas brethren. The Sierra’s hybrid version has a Vortec 5300 V8 engine so fuel efficiency won’t mean sacrificing performance.
Ford, among the first hybrid car manufacturers to produce a hybrid sport-utility vehicle, has been a pioneer in the hybrid technology arena. They were part of the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles since 1993. In 2004, Ford introduced the Ford Escape hybrid as the first hybrid SUV. Fuel efficiency didn’t have to mean making sacrifices, as the Escape Hybrid offered the same options as the conventional escape, including optional leather seats, premium audio system, and Intelligent 4WD. Additionally, the Escape Hybrid offers options not available in conventional models, including the Hybrid Energy Navigation System, a 110-volt power outlet, and appearance features unique to the hybrid. The Escape Hybrid’s fuel economy stands at 31 miles per gallon city and 36 mpg highway.
Toyota is one of the most innovative hybrid car manufacturers. They have a history of producing engines tweaked for alternative energy sources, including compressed natural gas and electricity. In fact, other hybrid car manufacturers such as Ford have licensed Toyota’s hybrid technology. They perfected the “strong” hybrid, or series/parallel, which provides the acceleration benefits of a parallel hybrid along with the benefits of a series hybrid. This is made possible by two important Toyota-bred technologies; namely, the power split device and sophisticated energy management. The Toyota Prius showcases these innovations and are sure to find their way into more and more hybrids in the future.