Despite the growing popularity of hybrids with consumers, some automakers have been resistant to developing the vehicles for reasons such as believing that they are too complex or expensive. However, as the public becomes more aware of the environmental, health, and energy independence benefits hybrids offer, automobile manufacturers are also recognizing that they must offer hybrids to reach that segment of the consumer market. In order to remain competitive, almost all automakers are currently offering hybrids or are developing the vehicles to become available in the near future.
According to Carlos Tavares, Nissan’s Executive Vice President for Global Product Planning, the company will offer a hybrid Infiniti in the next few years. The luxury hybrid will debut in the United States, although Nissan has not specified what Infiniti model will be offered as a hybrid version. Nissan is also developing its own hybrid powertrain, having previously used Toyota’s technology in the Nissan Altima hybrid.
Adding to its hybrid lineup, Honda is developing a new hybrid model designed to compete with the Toyota Prius. The new hybrid, which will not be based on any of Honda’s existing gasoline-powered vehicles, will have a wedge shape and seat up to five passengers. Available in 2009, it will be priced lower than the Honda Civic hybrid. The company is aiming for worldwide sales of 200,000, with 100,000 units sold in North America.
In addition, as reported in a recent issue of Automotive News, Hyundai will offer hybrid versions of its Elantra and Sonata beginning in 2010. Toyota will continue to capitalize on the popularity of its Prius when it offers a station wagon version of the hybrid, which will become available around 2010.