Without making too big a deal or providing an exact date, a united automotive revelation occurred about a decade ago. Almost every major car manufacturer was a part of it, with the exception of Toyota. They already had their own eco-friendly epiphany 17 years earlier when they introduced their first hybrid car.
In 1997, Japan unveiled its first gas-electric powered engine, and took it to the U.S. market in 2000. However, it wasn’t the first hybrid or electric car in the country; Honda unveiled its ‘Insight’ just seven months before, but in a limited supply. But ever since the first mass-produced gas-electric hybrid car, the Toyota Prius, the auto industry literally changed forever.
The combination of the rising influence of the green movement, in anticipation of federal regulations for enhanced fuel efficiency and hopeful thinking for decreasing the need on overseas fuel, the rest of the industry finally gets it. Going green means one thing to exec automakers – they’re ready to play the game.
The Toyota Prius, which has grown into an entire line now, still outsells almost every other hybrid, electric, and alternative car combined. Toyota’s line represented nearly 60% of 2013’s U.S. alternative fuel vehicle sales.
Since hybrid cars made their debut in the U.S, Toyota’s hybrid family has sold more than 1,537,000 units, while the combined remaining hybrid makers have sold just over 1,550,000 collectively.
Currently, there’s a great deal of competition. Honda took on the innovative technology with the strange, almost peanut looking Insight. Primarily it was a novelty, and its lack of success was pointed out in a New York Times review stating that the car’s style closely resembled Popeye’s friend, Olive Oyl, donning her ankle length dress.
Just three years upon Honda ending the first generation of the Insight, the newly redesigned second generation made its debut. This style no longer looked like a peanut, but instead a small trendy sedan. Almost simultaneously, other manufacturers did exactly the same thing. Mainstays such as the Cadillac Escalade, Ford Escape, and the Chevy Malibu were all developed to offer new hybrid-based models.
Much has happened in recent years. Just last year in 2013, almost 60 hybrid vehicles were available for purchase in the U.S., with nearly 500,000 units sold. Even though they continue to expand, the sales of hybrids still only represented just over 3.8% of all vehicles sold last year in the U.S., as said by the Electronic Drive Transportation Association. However, smaller vehicles with better fuel efficiency or hybrids, awaiting federal mandates should indicate more sales.
Green is on the Rise
In August 2012, and in accordance with certain legislation finalized by the President’s administration, a new U.S. car is required to average 35.5 mpg (miles per gallon) by the year 2016. Also, the mpg average is required to increase to 54.5 mpg by the year 2025.
According to worldwide market research firm J.D. Power and Associates, the ongoing rise of alternative fuel vehicles looks quite promising. It states that by 2025, more than a third of all passenger vehicles will be run with alternative fuels and also come equipped with alternative powertrains. Just over 17% of them will be hybrid gas-electric hybrids powertrains and plug-in hybrids.
About 5% of the share will include plug-in electric hybrids. Availability of electric and hybrid vehicles will double the present variety to 159 models by 2016 in the U.S.
The Future of Green in the Auto Industry
The irony of all this is that while several more major auto manufacturers, from BMW to Volkswagen and Porsche to Audi, all have high aspirations to generate competition for Honda’s Prius – there’s one thing for sure. With today’s innovative alternative fuel cars and cutting-edge hybrids, every auto manufacturer embracing hybrid and green technology are strongly competing for even just one slice of the market.