What's Available Now?
Three hybrid cars are now available in the United States -- the Honda Civic Hybrid, the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius. We will be discussing the latter two, and although both of these cars are hybrids, they are actually quite different in character.


The Honda Insight

The Toyota Prius

The Honda Insight price starts around $19,570, and the Toyota Prius starts around $20,510. Both cars have a gasoline engine, an electric motor and batteries, but that is where the similarities end.

The Honda Insight, which was introduced in early 2000 in the United States, is designed to get the best possible mileage. Honda used every trick in the book to make the car as efficient as it can be. The Insight is a small, lightweight two-seater with a tiny, high-efficiency gas engine.

The Toyota Prius, which came out in Japan at the end of 1997, is designed to reduce emissions in urban areas. It meets California's super ultra low emissions vehicle (SULEV) standard. It is a four-door sedan that seats five, and the powertrain is capable of accelerating the vehicle to speeds up to 15 mph (24 kph) on electric power alone. The Prius was honored as the 2004 North American Car of the Year.

Coming Soon!
Over the past four years, more than 100,000 hybrids have been sold in the United States. (The Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid account for the majority of these sales.) Even though that's not a huge percentage of the more than 17 million new cars and trucks that are sold in the U.S. each year, it's enough of an incentive to get more manufacturers on the hybrid bandwagon. Analysts suggest that the market this year, alone, could muster up the sales of the past four combined.

Below are some of the models manufacturers soon plan to integrate into the consumer market.

Manufacturer
Model
Model Year
Daimler-Chrysler
Dodge Ram
2005
Daimler-Chrysler
Mercedes S-class
2006
Ford
Escape
2005
General Motors
Chevy Equinox
2006
General Motors
Chevy Silverado
2005
General Motors
GMC-Sierra
2005
General Motors
Saturn-VUE
2005
Lexus
RX Hybrid SUV
2005
Toyota
Highlander
2005

Source www.fueleconomy.gov

Below is the hybrid-electric version of Daimler-Chrysler's Dodge Ram pickup. Recently dubbed the "Contractor Special," according to the folks at Daimler-Chrysler, this hybrid truck boasts 15 percent better fuel efficiency, lower emissions and better performance than the comparably-powered conventional Ram.


Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler
The new "contractor special" hybrid Dodge Ram pickup.

Some other hybrids that are being considered for production are:


Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler
Chrysler Citadel concept vehicle


Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler
Dodge PowerBox hybrid concept vehicle. The PowerBox is powered by natural gas and electricity.

Now let's look at how the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius work.