Are hybrids hot in 2008?

In the scheme of all things automotive, hybrids havent been around that long, but the arguments for and against hybrid technology have reached new heights. Whether the argument is for the environment or against horsepower instead of fuel savings, hybrids are increasing and increasing in sales.

According to J.D. Power, Power Information Network (PIN) sales have increased each year; and PIN has forecasted that by 2014 hybrid sales will be over 1.1 million unit’s and 6.4 percent of the market.

Current car hybrids sold, as of September, 2007*

Honda Accord “ 2,808 sold -to be discontinued “28 mpg
Honda Civic “ 23,828 sold – 50 mpg
Honda Insight “ 3 sold, discontinued
Lexus GS 450h “ 1,328 sold – 26.5 mpg “ niche market
Lexus 600h L “ 5,318 sold
Nissan Altima “ 24,000 sold – 39 mpg
Toyota Camry “ 16,879 sold -39 mpg
Toyota Prius “ 137,114 sold – 55.5 mpg
Total hybrid cars sold “ 211,278

Current truck hybrids for 2007

Ford Escape “ 15,734 sold – 32 mpg
Mercury Mariner “ 2,801 sold – 30.5 mpg
Lexus RX 400h “ 12,193 sold – 29.25 mpg
Saturn Vue “ 5,589 – 29.5 mpg
Toyota Highlander “ 16,365 sold – 29.25 mpg
Total light hybrid trucks sold “ 52,682

Total hybrid vehicles sold as of September 2007 “ 263,960
*Per Wards Auto

As the talk of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) becomes a reality most manufacturers will need hybrids to meet CAFÉ requirements. The list of hybrids coming to market in 2008 is lengthy and runs the gamut from small cars to heavy pickups, to cars for fuel efficiency to a $104,000 sedan meant for speed.

2008 hybrids coming to market

Saturn Aura “ 28 mpg – 6.8 tons of carbon – mild hybrid
Chevy Malibu “ 28 mpg “ 6.8 tons of carbon –
GMC Yukon and Chevy Tahoe “ two-mode hybrid. Be careful, if you use the remote start on the keyfob it works off the internal combustion engine and will decrease your gas mileage.
Saturn Vue (mild) “ 26 mpg 7.1 tons of carbon
Cadillac Escalade
Chevy Silverado hybrid “ 17 mpg 11.1 tons of carbon
Saturn Vue (two mode)
Dodge Durango
Chrysler Aspen
Nissan Altima “ 34 mpg 5.4 tons of carbon
Ford Fusion
GMC Sierra Classic “ 16.5 mpg “ 11.4 tons of carbon
Mercury Milan
Ford Escape “ redesign “ 30 mpg “ 6.2 tons of carbon
Mercury Mariner “ redesign “ 30 mpg “ 6.2 tons of carbon
Mazda Tribute “ new “ 30 mpg 6.2 tons of carbon
Honda Civic “ 42.5 mpg 4.4 tons of carbon
Toyota Prius “ 46.5 mpg 4 tons of carbon
Toyota Highlander “ 26.5 mpg “ 7.1 tons of carbon
Toyota Camry “ 33.5 mpg “ 5.4 tons of carbon
Lexus 600h L “ 21 mpg 8.7 tons of carbon
Lexus RX 400h “ 26.2 mpg “ 7.1 tons of carbon
Lexus GS 450 “ 23.5 mpg “ 8 tons of carbon

So far hybrids have been an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. This core technology will be seen in many vehicles of the future, including fuel cell vehicles. By 2009 Ford and General Motors say they will have a plug-in hybrid; a hybrid that can be charged electrically to run on pure electric power for 10-40 miles with a built-in generator that will create the rest of the energy needed to drive 150 miles.

2009 hybrids coming to market

BMW X6
Mercedes S400
Mercedes ML 450
Ford Escape plug-in
Saturn Vue green line plug-in

Think of a home; youve got electricity until the grid goes down, but there are some people that continue to have electricity. They have purchased a generator that can be filled with gasoline, propane, E85 or diesel. You get to pick the generator and the type of fuel it uses. General Motors has condensed that elemental technology into a Chevy Volt that is supposed to come out by 2010.

Tax Credit’s

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 allows for a credit when you purchase a new hybrid. Since it is a tax credit, not a deduction, you dont have to itemize your taxes to get the tax credit. Check with your accountant before purchasing, some tax credit’s run out after a certain amount of hybrids have been purchased. The tax credit can be up to $4,000 and is a one time deduction that needs to be taken in the year the car is purchased. The tax credit is not retroactive, not available on leases and only allowed on cars used in the United States. Check with your accountant first to make sure the tax credit still applies.

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.

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