As batteries and other technologies improved, so did the fuel efficiency of hybrid vehicles. As these green alternatives began to capture the growing attention of consumers, major automakers began to take notice. While Honda and Toyota were the first to market hybrid vehicles in the U.S. marketplace, other major automakers, like Ford, GM, and Hyundai have entered the hybrid arena, making the selection of hybrid EVs for consumers greater than ever before.
Hyundai: Developing Hybrid Market Share
For example, the Korean automaker Hyundai entered the hybrid market in the U.S. about a decade after the first hybrids had been introduced when it brought the Elantra to U.S. showrooms. Unlike most hybrids, which rely on an electric motor and gasoline engine, the Elantra — when introduced — was powered by liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and also adopted advanced Lithium Polymer batteries.
Today, car showrooms like those at Phoenix Hyundai dealers are offering Hyundai’s flagship hybrid version of its popular Sonata. The Sonata Hybrid is Hyundai’s first non-plug-in hybrid offering next-generation lithium polymer technology. Hyundai’s goal with the Sonata was to offer a popular sedan in a hybrid version without sacrificing any performance due to the technology, which yields higher fuel efficiency than the conventional model. The Sonata Hybrid has 199 net horsepower and a very competitive EPA-estimated 40 MPG highway rating.
Hybrid Selection Grows
Hyundai isn’t the only automaker to take notice of the growing opportunities for hybrid shares. Chevrolet currently offers its popular Silverado light-duty truck, as well as its Tahoe SUV as hybrids. In addition, Chevy introduced the Chevrolet Volt in 2011. The Volt was Motor Trend’s car of the year when first introduced.
Ford has also announced it will have a greater emphasis on hybrid and electric technology in 2013 and 2014. The automaker has introduced hybrid versions of its crossover Ford C-Max as well as its Ford Escape. It also introduced the Ford Fusion, which has garnered ample attention in its category.
Honda introduced the first hybrid to America in 1999, and today offers the Accord, Civic, CR-Z, and Insight.
Toyota continues to lead in the hybrid marketplace with its very popular Prius. Today, in addition to the original Prius, Toyota offers the larger Prius V, compact Prius C and the Prius Plug-in hybrid.
Lexus, for example, offers (six) hybrid sedans, and both Infiniti and Mercedes offer two hybrids each, for 2013 and 2014.
Technology on the Horizon
Hyundai’s future emphasis is illustrative of the emerging technologies soon to be offered by most major automakers. In June 2013, Hyundai announced it had delivered the first of its fuel cell vehicles to Denmark. According to Hyundai, these were the first hydrogen-powered vehicles to be manufactured on a production line and introduced in Europe. The automaker has long been a proponent of advanced hydrogen technology and first began introducing prototypes of its fuel cell vehicles. The company first began development of its proprietary fuel cell technology in 1998.
The future of hybrid technology is nearly in reach. With such quality manufacturers as Hyundai, Toyota, Chevrolet and beyond, the industry is well on its way to an affordable, functional and green marketplace.
Photo by Flickr user InSapphoWeTrust