It’s been a decade since the hybrid car first burst onto the scene with promises of double your gas mileage and lower emissions. If you can recall, gasoline was hovering a little above $1 a gallon and we were in the middle of an unprecedented economic boom. Many people didn’t care about the hybrid car.
Things change though, and with a decade of the economy leveling off, gas prices tripling, and wars in the Middle East raging on, now we’re pressed with the cold hard reality of global warming as well. Not only are there obvious economic effects of a hybrid car, but growing social implications. The hybrid car is an important next step in technology and social development that the world is seeing more and more as a necessity and not just a “green” thing to do.
The major problem though so far with the hybrid market has been the lack of supply by the car manufacturers. While Japanese automakers have taken the lead in the market, output is still stifled, with nearly a 8 month waiting list at times for the most popular hybrid car, the Prius. American automakers ignored the hybrid car market completely and only last year did any of the big three automakers introduce a hybrd car to the market.
And while American automakers promise a boom in their output in the next couple of years, with over half a dozen new hybrid car options rolling off the assembly line, they’re a good decade behind in the market.
Toyota Prius – The most popular and oldest of all hybrid models, the Prius is one of the cheapest models available as well as the most efficient with nearly 60 mpg. There is a downside to being the most popular however – a waiting list of two to nine months.
Honda Insight – Honda’s new entry, the Insight is a straight up competitor to the Prius, with a slightly lower price point and slightly higher mpg. It doesn’t have the establishment of brand name like Toyota’s machine, but the success of Civic and Accord hybrids in Honda’s line places them in a better position than any other car company to take Toyota on.
Ford Escape – The Escape Hybrid is the first time an American car company has offered a hybrid vehicle to the public. Their first entry is an attempt to pacify both markets at the same time, offering a more expensive SUV hybrid that gets significantly better mileage than most SUVs on the market, but still fails to come anywhere near the Toyota or Honda mileage standards.
Lexus and Toyota have offered their own entries into the SUV hybrid arena, with the Lexus RX 400h and Toyota Highlander respectively. The popularity of the SUV being what it is, the price point is rendered partially if not entirely mute, as those on the cusp of buying an SUV because of gas mileage might reconsider when these options are presented.