Will Small Cars Finally Capture American Hearts?

Neil Winton, European columnist for Autos Insider questions the economics of expensive hybrids, but also see small cars as economical, practical and now driveable.

Published: 08-Jan-2006

When you look around the Detroit Car Show, otherwise known as the North American International Auto Show, you probably won't spot the sea change which is about to hit the American car market. Clue: It's not connected to hybrids.

Sure, there will be the usual glitz and glamor as the big car manufacturers try to tempt potential buyers with their most sensual, extravagant and inappropriate new products.

And there will also be a huge effort by car makers to show how much they care about the environment. You'll see futuristic hydrogen fuel-cell powered concept cars. There will be engines fired by diesel, bio-diesel, ethanol, compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas. And above all there will be truckloads of hybrid cars - which combine gasoline engines and electric motors. But hybrids are expensive. The Ford Escape hybrid costs $3,300 more than the non-hybrid version. The Lexus RX400h costs $5,800 more than its gasoline equivalent RX330.

Failing to deliver

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