Automakers now have to contend with increasing fuel economy standards and government regulations and as a response, more and more hybrids and electric cars have been showcased in the latest Detroit Auto Show currently underway.
Despite analysts’ expectations that the hybrid market would grow significantly in 2012, the main drawbacks continue to be the lower pump prices for gasoline and higher purchase cost for these kinds of vehicles. The automakers such as Toyota, Honda, Ford Motor, and others, continue to build and market hybrids and other plug-in vehicles.
Electric and hybrid cars cost several thousand more than internal combustion engines. BMW said that the ActiveHybrid 5 would be priced at $8,700 above the gas-fueled 535i. For GM, the Volt costs double compared to the Cruze, after the federal tax credit application.
While consumers are able to recover their costs for purchasing alternative fuel vehicles within a year, the lower gas prices has extended that recovery to more years. Another drawback is that the shortages in batteries and other important parts held back sales last year.
According to Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Nissan said, “We have a bottleneck with the batteries.” He added that he is expecting supplies to increase as their flagship Leaf goes online in markets in the United States. The electric car and battery arrays would start to be built in Tennessee, United States.
Ghosn further adds, “A lot of consumers are thrilled that they have the option of buying an electric car. We sold 9,700 the first year. We can double that. I am much more optimistic on the prospects for electric cars than many people. We are very, very far from our potential.”
As for GM, the carmaker is planning to sell 45,000 Volts in 2012 even if they fell short of their 10,000-unit target for the previous year. GM’s CEO, Daniel F. Akerson said that the company would build as many Volts as the demanded by the market. He said, “We’re going to match production with demand. There are new variables in the equation, so we’ll see.”
Toyota for its part would unveil its Prius C, a smaller version of the most popular hybrid in history, the Prius. The original Prius sales dipped 3.2 percent last year mainly due to the disasters in Japan. The company is also making available the Prius V this fall and the plug-in Prius this spring season with unveiling of a hybrid plug-in concept named the NS4 while Lexus, the company’s premium brand would be unveiling a hybrid sports coupe concept.
Other carmakers also had their own versions. For Honda, its upscale Acura brand unveiled two hybrid versions, namely the ILX and the NSX. These vehicles would be built in its new Ohio plant. For Volkswagen, the Jetta model would unveil its hybrid version while Mercedes would also unveil two E-class hybrids. These German hybrids would not be available in the United States. Volvo would also have its very own hybrid plug-in concept.