For those of you who have toyed with the idea of buying a hybrid but were discouraged by the price, you are not alone. In fact, despite the growing concern for the environment, not to mention the skyrocketing price of gas, hybrid cars still only represent a small percentage of global car sales, and a major reason for this is the cost.
Hybrids are considered the wave of the future because they not only reduce emissions, addressing the issue of climate change, but they get great gas mileage, an important consideration with the current price of oil. It should be noted that hybrids can also improve the power of the engine, which compromises any advantages in fuel efficiency and emissions. Whatever the application, however, the technology makes the cars more expensive.
Because of this, they are the vehicle of choice for only a small niche of people who can afford them, and they currently enjoy a special status amongst the image conscious celebrity-set. For most average consumers, however, they are not an option.
That may soon change.
Honda Motor Corporation, one of the largest car manufacturers in the world and a leader in fuel efficient technology, has unveiled it’s plan to introduce a low-cost hybrid by 2009. If they can pull it off, they hope to make the hybrid a more mainstream car that will be more appealing to the general public, with the ultimate goal of achieving greater sales and broader appeal than their current incarnation.
This, of course, is making Detroit nervous, and may signal a need for American car makers to start making greener and more fuel efficient vehicles, something they could afford to ignore in the past because hybrid cars weren’t worth their attention (due to such a small market share) while gas-guzzling SUVs have such high profit margins.
Honda, meanwhile, has had to confront a growing need to compete with Toyota, which has not only grown to be the world’s largest automaker, but makes the car that has become synonymous with the hybrid movement, the Prius. Honda is therefore faced with the seemingly insurmountable task of challenging Toyota’s dominance in the market.
Concurrently, Toyota is racing to lower production costs on the Prius, as well, which would hopefully result in a lower cost to the consumer. All eyes are on a potentially favorable car buyers market in 2009.
In the meantime, with even adamant global warming naysayers warming up (no pun intended) to the possibilities of an ecological disaster on the horizon, maybe it’s time that we got over our need to drive huge SUVs and start moderating our fuel consumption.
Then again, as gas prices hovering around $4.00 and with no ceiling in sight, we may have little choice in the matter.
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