Hybrid SUVs are perhaps more commonplace in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world, but there is no doubt that they are now starting to hit different areas and different countries around the globe. So what is a Hybrid SUV and what exactly does it have to offer to the motorist of today?
What is an SUV?
An SUV is a generic term for a sport utility vehicle, which can be best described as a "station wagon" placed upon a light truck chassis. These are larger than normal vehicles which are usually able to operate on off-road and on road terrain, offering significant towing capacity as well as the ability to carry a similar number of people as you would find in a minivan or a large sedan. Those people who might use an SUV include large families or those who do a significant amount of on road and off-road driving. They were more popular back in the 1990s and the 2000s although their popularity went into decline as the price of oil moved higher and the cost of running an SUV began to soar. So why are Hybrid SUVs making a comeback?
As we have mentioned on numerous occasions, a hybrid vehicle is one which is able to accommodate both a traditional internal combustion engine as well as an electric motor (or more than one electric motor) offering the ability to switch between traditional fuel power and electric power. The three main systems present in Hybrid SUVs of today include:-
This is a vehicle which accommodates both on internal combustion engines and electric motor, both of which are connected to the mechanical transmission system. As a consequence, they can both add power to the transmission system at the same time thereby reducing not only carbon emissions from the traditional fuel system but also reducing the cost of motoring.
A series hybrid system is one where the internal combustion engine takes the place of a more traditional generator and supplies power to the electric battery system. It is this ability to constantly recharge and regenerate the batteries that is most useful and when you bear in mind the distinct lack of recharging stations around the world, this is likely to be a very important factor for some time to come.
A Series-Parallel hybrid is simply one which allows the driver to switch between a series hybrid system and a parallel hybrid system. Depending upon the terrain, the type of journey and the speed required, it is possible to select the most appropriate system and the most efficient system. While the cost of a Series-Parallel hybrid is often higher than a parallel hybrid system or a series hybrid system by itself, it is the opportunity to adapt the power supply which is more important to many people.
Demand improves in the Hybrid SUV market
Only a few years ago, before the introduction of quality and reliable hybrid systems, simple SUVs were often looked upon with disdain due to their gas guzzling reputation and the often excessive cost of motoring associated with these vehicles. However, there has been a significant increase in popularity with the introduction of a large range of Hybrid SUVs which are now proving more popular around the world.
Many of the major vehicle manufacturers in the world are heavily involved in the Hybrid SUV market including names such as Mazda, Ford, Mercury, Lexus, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Chevrolet and Cadillac. These are the crème de la crème of the SUV market and the very fact that more Hybrid SUVs are on the way is certainly catching the eye of motorists around the world.
How efficient are Hybrid SUVs?
First of all, it is worth remembering that SUVs are larger than normal vehicles and are therefore unlikely to match the efficiency and economy of more traditional cars on the road today. However, there is still a significant variation within the Hybrid SUV market, with the Cadillac Escalade offering only 20 miles per gallon while the Mazda Tribute comes in at around 34 miles per gallon. This is a very marked difference in efficiency and available miles per gallon and is something which you will need to consider if you decide to look down the SUV route.
As you might expect from a sector which is now certainly up and coming again, every single connotation has been considered by the SUV manufacturers. We have the more basic Hybrid SUVs to the luxury Hybrid SUVs which bring every comfort you can imagine although you will likely pay a significant amount of money for this. While there have been distinct advances in the technology associated with SUVs, resulting in the modern day Hybrid SUV, in many cases we are seeing popular basic SUVs reintroduced and remodelled for the current marketplace.
New developments in the Hybrid SUV market
There are many new vehicles entering the SUV market although some of the prominent names we can expect in the future include the :-
The very name Porsche is certain to get the heartbeat of any car enthusiasts beating much faster and they will be pleased to hear that the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid SUV is set to hit the marketplace in 2011. Not only do you now have the option of acquiring one of the best and most prestigious names in motoring but you can also do your bit for the planet at a starting price of just under USD68,000.
While the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid SUV will provide you with around 29 miles per gallon, which is towards the top end of the hybrid SUV market, it does offer a very impressive 0 to 60mph in just 6.1 seconds with a top speed of 150 mph. The vehicle itself is powered by a 3 L supercharged V-6 engine which incorporates a traditional internal combustion engine and various electric motors. There is no doubt that luxury car manufacturers such as Porsche have taken their time to put together a vehicle which is worthy of the name.
Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid SUV
While Volkswagen has a number of SUVs available to the market at the moment, it has finally announced its arrival in the hybrid SUV market with the launch of the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid SUV expected in 2012. In line with some of the more luxurious hybrid SUVs, the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid SUV will come in at around the mid-20 miles per gallon, be able to accelerate from 0 mph to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds and have a top speed of around 150 mph. The vehicle itself will be powered by a supercharged 3 L V6 engine with the ability to actually try it in full electric motor, unlike many other SUVs on the market today. There are a number of efficiency savings systems within the vehicle to make it as inexpensive to drive as possible and also push forward the undoubted benefits of electric power.
Many believe that the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid SUV could be one of the best cars to hit the market over the next few years.
BMW X6 Sports Activity Coupe SUV Hybrid
As seems to be the trend in the hybrid SUV market, BMW has announced plans to release the BMW X6 Sports Activity Coupe SUV Hybrid into the Japanese market before the end of 2010. The vehicle, while offering both a traditional internal combustion engine and electric power, will be one of the few pure electric cars in the market, offering the driver the chance to switch to electric power on its own.
However, the release into the Japanese market will be the first stage in a worldwide promotion of the BMW X6 Sports Activity Coupe SUV Hybrid which will see it introduced into Europe in early 2011. Already there are rumours that fuel efficiency will be 20% better than that currently available in the hybrid SUV market, a factor which will play into the hands of those who are looking for an SUV but also looking to reduce the damage to the environment. At this point in time it is unclear how much the BMW X6 Sports Activity Coupe SUV Hybrid will be, but it certainly will not be cheap!
Range Rover evaluates the hybrid SUV market
Range Rover is a name which goes back decades in the motoring world although it is a name which has had more than its fair share of controversy and more than its fair share of ups and downs. However, it is believed that the owners of the Range Rover brand are now looking seriously at reintroducing a number of popular models as hybrid SUVs. While no names have been put forward as yet, and there is indeed no definitive timescale mentioned, there is no doubt that Range Rover will be looking to maximise the potential of its brand name and its customer base.
The ability to blend luxury into a new styled and revamped Range Rover will allow the company to reposition itself towards the middle to top end of the hybrid SUV market which many believe has the potential to grow significantly in the months and years ahead.
GMC Yukon Denali SUV Hybrid
While the SUV has for some time been put forward as the ultimate in energy pollution on the roads today, the emergence of vehicles such as the GMC Yukon Denali SUV Hybrid look set to change his image forever. While the size of this vehicle can be off putting for many people, as well as the fact it has a 6 L engine (which is not what you would expect from an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicle), there is much more to this than meets the eye.
The vehicle itself is capable of running in dual mode or pure electric power mode and has an active fuel management system which reduces the amount of fuel used by the engine to take into account the speed and type of journey. Integrating the electric power system with the traditional internal combustion engine and traditional fuel is not an easy job but there is no doubt that the GMC Yukon Denali SUV Hybrid has made great inroads in this particular area.
SUVs are the future
Like something of an up-and-coming pop star returning from the past, SUVs have been reinvented and revamped for the modern-day market. Hybrid SUVs offer a unique alternative to your traditional larger vehicle and your environmentally friendly electric vehicles of today. All of the major names in the SUV market are present in the hybrid SUV market today and we are seeing an increase in the number of vehicles rolled out. The old gas guzzling SUVs of years gone by are now in the past and we are entering a new era for one of the more popular types of vehicle in the U.S.
For many years the SUV has been the epitome of luxurious motoring and always been a target for environmentally friendly groups and green activists. However, despite being popular in the 1990s and the early 2000s, before the SUV was branded the devil incarnate, they have risen from the dead as a new and very popular type of environment you friendly vehicle.
The ability to integrate a traditional internal combustion engine with electric power technology available today is an attraction for many people - although it has to be said that miles per gallon efficiency is still well behind smaller vehicles are but well ahead of non-hybrid SUVs. While these vehicles do not come cheap, many experts believe that demand is set to blossom in the years ahead as technology improves and efficiency gains are brought into the marketplace.
Despite the fact that many SUVs have enormous engine capacity there is no doubt that improvements in technology and efficiency are now starting to make a real difference. Gone are the days when owning an SUV was a "sin" as the hybrid SUV is now renowned as one of the better designed and manufactured environmentally friendly vehicles. There seems to be no area of the motoring world which cannot accommodate new up-and-coming electric power technology and for this many people are grateful.