Modern alternative energy vehicles (aka “hybrid cars”) have only been available for purchase for a bit over a decade. But with gasoline prices remaining high, consumer demand has increased for more fuel-efficient vehicles. As a result, numerous automakers are scrambling to enter the hybrid vehicle market.
Here is an overview of 14 major automakers and the progress they have made in designing and selling hybrid cars.
This small hatchback coupe is scheduled to be released in 2012. This fully electric car reportedly has a range of about 100 miles.
The American luxury automaker just announced in August that it will enter the electric car market. The ELR will have an electric propulsion system with a T-shaped lithium ion battery and a secondary gasoline-powered mode.
The Volt is now being sold at Chevrolet dealers across the U.S. The plug-in hybrid is a four-seat hatchback that travels 40 miles after a charge without using any gasoline.
Even Italy’s world-renowned performance carmaker is stepping into the hybrid market in a couple of years. The Hy-Kers is not a plug-in electric car, but this gas/battery hybrid model does have a sweet V-12 high performance engine.
Ford Focus Electric
This car will enter Ford showrooms this fall. The U.S. automaker is positioning the electric version of the Focus as a low-cost, alternative-energy vehicle – in contrast to the hefty price tags seen on many of its competitors.
Mercedes B-Class F-Cell
The luxury car manufacturer is focusing its alternative energies on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Although it introduced its gas-powered B-Class a few years ago, Mercedes doesn’t plan to mass produce a fuel cell version of the car until 2015.
This limited-edition, plug-in car contains a 380-volt battery which delivers a cruising range of 150 miles. Mini is producing about 500 of these vehicles for sale or lease in New York and Southern California very soon.
This plug-in electric vehicle has already been on the market in Japan since 2009. The iMiEV’s 16 kWh ion batteries only provide a range of 75 miles on a single charge. On the bright side, the car can reach 80 miles per hour.
This electric vehicle will probably compete with the Ford Focus Electric for budget-conscious green car buyers. The Leaf entered showrooms late last year, and it boasts seating for five and a base MSRP of about $33,000.
The gas-operated Fluence hit the market in 2009, but Renault says that its all-electric version will be unveiled later this year. Unlike many automakers who are only ordering small initial production runs, Renault plans to make 20,000 units in the first year alone.
Daimler is hoping that a mass-production electric Smart Car (to be released next year in the U.S.) will attract consumers who like its roomy interior and eight airbags. But initial reports from auto testers is that the ED’s miniscule 27hp engine makes it very, very slow.
Subaru’s current entry into the electric car market includes a 346-volt battery with a top speed of 65 miles per hour. With a special stationary charger, the R1E can recharge in just 15 minutes; but the onboard standard charger still takes about eight hours.
The carmaker who blazed trails with the Prius is hoping to bring its next generation FT
-EV to U.S. dealer lots sometime next year. Even though Toyota is expanding its selection of gas-hybrid vehicles, officials have not committed to releasing any fully electric cars.
Tesla Model S
Tesla’s initial electric car costs a bit more than half of the $109,000 sticker price for its famous Roadster. But the Model S does offer seating for five (plus two side-facing child seats), touch screen interior controls, 3G connectivity, and an awesome design.
Just how many Americans will give up their gas-powered cars and trucks for electrics or hybrids remains to be seen. But before long, there will be an excellent menu of choices available for those that do wish to make the leap into the alternative energy vehicle market.