Automakers See Future Within the Hybrid

Rising fuel prices are driving major changes in auto industry from development of 'crossover utility vehicles' to mini-cars to hybrid-electric powertrain programs

Published: 02-Jan-2005

For nearly a decade, the most reliable way for an automaker to prosper was to build and sell sport utility vehicles. Now America’s SUV fever is cooling, and automakers are navigating a rougher road.

Rising gas prices are driving consumers toward crossover models that are built more like cars than trucks. And Detroit is scrambling to keep up with demand in other areas, such as gas-electric hybrids and trendy cars for the youth market.

But times are good for consumers. The rapid pace of new-model introductions and technological innovation means dealers will replace old models more quickly – and discount yesterday’s hot offerings. And Web sites filled with information about prices and features give consumers a much stronger hand in negotiating. Here are some trends to watch in the industry over the next several years:


Playing catch-up a decade late, the world's auto giants now find that they have to lease or buy technology from Toyota.

Spc. Jeffrey Hamme and Staff Sgt. Michelangelo Merksamer of HHC, 1/506th Infantry, point out features of the Hybrid Electric Humvee at the AUSA Annual Meeting earlier this month. The two Soldiers participated in a Military Utility Assessment of the prototype vehicle last month at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Ford's 'Hybrid Patrol,' a 10-city initiative this fall that aims to show hybrid drivers how to drive for best fuel economy. EV World photo of Bill and Lisa Hammond on way to first Ford Patrol event in Detroit during stop-over in Omaha.


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