Hybrid Sales Predicted to Triple Over Next Two Years
DETROIT – At the North American International Auto Show, General Motors Corp. unveiled a low-priced, gas-electric Saturn Vue Green Line, while Toyota Motor Corp. will display a hybrid version of its best-selling Camry, according to the Detroit News. Ford Motor Co., the first U.S. automaker to sell gas-electric vehicles, is going a step further with the sporty Reflex show car featuring a diesel-hybrid powertrain.
Over the next two years, the number of hybrid models on sale will more than triple to include gas-electric versions of the Lexus GS450, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon, and Chevrolet Malibu, according to consulting firm J.D. Power and Associates. Using technology developed for Ford’s Mercury Mariner hybrid SUV, the automaker’s Mazda affiliate will launch a hybrid version of the Tribute SUV.
Nissan Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG also are developing hybrids, the fastest-growing segment in the market for fuel-efficient alternatives to cars and trucks powered by conventional gas engines.
In less than seven years since the U.S. launch of the first hybrid — the Honda Insight — sales of gas-electric vehicles have increased from fewer than 20,000 in 1999 to an estimated 200,000 in 2005, according to the Detroit News report. J.D. Power predicts hybrids will triple their share of the U.S. auto market from one percent last year to three percent by 2008, even though they cost thousands of dollars more than similar vehicles powered only by internal combustion engines.