Hybrid vehicles were dubbed the future of the automobile industry at the turn of the 21st century, and although over 2.5 million hybrids have been sold since 1999, they’re still not where many anticipated they’d be in terms of sales. Hybrids account for 3 percent new car sales while electric vehicles are responsible for just 0.1 percent, but there’s optimism that these numbers will increase.
It’s always timely to talk fuel efficiency when gas prices spike, and that’s exactly what they did this past week, as the national average gas price jumped 17 cents to $3.52. Yes, gas prices will continue to fluctuate within a certain range as time goes forward, and everyone acknowledges that the average gas price is on an overall upward trajectory.
The main selling point for hybrid and electric vehicles is saving money by reducing fuel consumption. Of course, such vehicles are also more eco-friendly than traditional gas-powered ones. Toyota’s Prius, last year’s best selling hybrid by a huge margin, emits an estimated 96.2 grams per kilometer of carbon dioxide. Compare that to the 236.6 g/km emitted by the Toyota Camry, 2012’s best-selling car.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at five of the most exciting hybrid and electric vehicles on the market.
Via Motors E-REV Delivery Van: Via Motors recently introduced this plug-in commercial delivery van. The van uses similar technology to the Chevrolet Volt – it features a gasoline engine that not only extends range but acts as a generator to the van’s battery system. The van’s purchase price is nearly double that of a traditional van, but it pays off in the long run. It is estimated that the van will save business owners over $600 a month in fuel with lower maintenance costs to boot. Via Motors states the van’s major components require zero maintenance before 300,000 miles, with oil changes needed four times fewer than typical vans.
2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid: VW’s long-running midsize sedan went hybrid in 2012, and its debut marked a first for hybrid vehicles: turbo-charged power. The Jetta is the only turbo-hybrid on the market, and its performance – acceleration in specific – has garnered rave reviews. The Jetta boasts 170 horsepower while still getting an EPA estimate 48 mpg on the highway. The only hybrid that outdoes the Jetta in performance is the Honda CR-Z hatchback, but it comes at the expense of fuel economy.
2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid: US News ranks the Fusion atop its list of the best hybrid and electric cars, and it’s hard to argue. The Fusion is a great vehicle for the same reasons as any traditional vehicle, not just hybrids. It has solid off-the-line power and a spacious interior with plenty of cargo space, not to mention exterior styling that has auto critics raving. The Fusion combines style, fuel economy and the all-important fun factor with an end result of a hybrid that’s subtle yet luxurious.
2012 Mitsubishi i: Mitsubishi’s electric-powered i is the least expensive electric vehicle on the market. The i has a few drawbacks – most notably a 62 mile range that makes it best fit for city driving only. The i is powered by a 66 horsepower electric motor, but don’t let that put you off – autoblog says the i accelerates from 50 to 60 mph with spunk. The i’s exterior styling is unconventional and sure to turn heads on city streets. Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself.
2010 Tesla Roadster: Ok, Tesla’s Roadster may not be the most practical or reasonably priced electric vehicle on the market – with an original MSRP of $109,000 to $128,500, but it’s easily the coolest. The Roadster isn’t a gimmick or a concept car that can only be seen at auto shows and driven in video games. It’s a legitimate electric sports car capable of 125 mph and 225 miles of driving without a recharge. The Roadster is not the car for you if you need cargo space or are on a budget, but as Automobile Magazine puts it, “if this is the future of cars, enthusiasts have nothing to worry about.”
If electric and hybrid vehicles are indeed the future, it’s encouraging to see automakers take notice that drivers want a multitude of options on the market. According to the EPA, 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. Buying a new eco-friendly vehicle is a change that many are unable to make overnight, but in the meantime between your next vehicle purchase, consider the smaller lifestyle changes that you can make to positively impact the environment. This goes for businesses, too. UPS is on the hybrid bandwagon with their fleet of 250 hybrid delivery trucks. USAgain is proud to operate a commercial fleet of around 10 hybrid vehicles as well.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says worldwide carbon emissions must be cut by one-fourth by 2020 if the world is to avoid disastrous effects of climate change. Because transportation accounts for a significant portion of emissions, rethinking our automobiles is necessary to keep the environment human friendly. Thankfully, the automobile industry has a varied selection of vehicles that’s only going to grow as time goes on.
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