Hybrid Handwriting on the Wall

Automotive News World Congress panel of powertrain experts sees strong growth for hybrids.

Published: 28-Jan-2005

OIT -- Automakers and suppliers see the writing on the wall. The success of the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid and Ford Escape Hybrid has forced manufacturers to build more gasoline-electric hybrids.

In the short run, hybrids will be most viable because consumers will pay a premium to get them, a panel of powertrain experts concluded last week at the Automotive News World Congress.

This year Toyota Motor Corp. will produce 100,000 Prius cars for North America, double the 2004 figure. And Ford Motor Co. says it could sell five times as many Escape hybrids if it had ordered enough batteries, motors and other key components.

Mary Ann Wright, Ford's director of sustainable mobility technologies and hybrid programs, noted that Ford marketing officials had planned for sales of 20,000 units this year. "We had no idea where the market would go when we were doing this," Wright said. "We are working to increase capacity. We have a plan in place. We will look at many potential partners."


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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