Looking Ahead: 2005 a Year for Hybrid Vehicles
NEW YORK — Looking back over 2004's activities in battery electric, hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles, and ahead to those to come, industry newsletter "Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Progress" on December 28 predicted a 2005 full of hybrids over most of the globe, particularly in the U.S.Hybrid passenger vehicle offerings should more than triple this year — not just in the number of vehicle models offered, but in the number available to purchase, as well. And biofuels, already taking off with record numbers of production facilities opening and on the drawing board in 2004, will pick up speed in the U.S. in 2005, thanks to the recently passed Corporate Tax Bill."Why do biofuels matter?" asks editor Layne Holley. "Because they're going to be finding their way into more engines. Biodiesel in particular stands to make its way into more diesel fleets — both heavy-duty and passenger vehicles. Biodiesel and electricity could prove to be a strong partnership in 2005.”Also on the heavy-duty side, transit bus manufacturers are still investigating (and some are investing in) hybrid technology. For this segment, the real activity to watch in 2005 will be transit and trucking industry purchases and the continued development of hybrid systems by the military.The low-speed (neighborhood) electric vehicle market will continue to grow. "Keep an eye out, too," says Holley, "for full-size electric vehicle projects using advanced batteries such as lithium-ion. Trebling the range could make these vehicles more viable."Fuel cell vehicle numbers remain in the handfuls. Heavy-duty and passenger-class vehicles using fuel cell technology are still in the observation and experimentation stages. "One interesting segment to keep an eye on," notes Holley, "will be small, two-wheeled and low-speed vehicles."Also watch for the dominant polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell to share the transportation market with other fuel cell types, such as alkaline and solid oxide, as new strides and new ways of thinking enable these technologies to bring themselves back into the race.