It wasn’t that long ago that virtually everyone was awaiting the car of the future; the hybrid. These vehicles were to run on gasoline and electricity, be rechargeable and deliver fuel economy that dusted the competition. However, just as fast as hybrids arrived, it seems now that their fate is uncertain. Many vehicle manufacturers seem to be turning their back on the technology, instead opting for more fuel efficient traditional cars, trucks and SUVs.
In fact, all one needs to do is take a look at the latest info coming out of the recent Detroit Auto Show. There, Cadillac introduced the new ATS sedan, which the company boasts can achieve up to 40 MPG using a traditional engine. Additionally, Ford has announced that it will stop producing its Escape hybrid. It seems the tide may be turning for hybrid enthusiasts and maybe for your wallet as well.
One of the biggest reasons for the recent shift is the cost of ownership of hybrid vehicles. Consumers that initially purchased these cars and trucks to save money on gas have quickly come to realize that the trade-off is higher energy costs elsewhere. What the general public is coming to see is that there is no reason for the extra expense if they can get a traditional vehicle for less money that delivers better fuel economy. If you save a few hundred dollars a year in gas costs, but end up spending many thousands of extra dollars for a hybrid, at what point does it stop making sense to own one?
When taking a look at the numbers, hybrid sales dropped from 2.4 percent of vehicle sales in 2010 to 2.2 percent in 2011. These figures may also be a reflection of the general public’s trust in hybrid models, and with good cause. The recent developments with Chevy’s Volt, in which batteries have been combusting, are a stark reminder that electric technology in vehicles has not been perfected, leaving most people with a wait-and-see attitude. It seems, however, that this has bought enough time for auto manufacturers to play catch up, as they have continued to find ways to reduce energy waste, reduce vehicle weight and develop more efficient technologies in gasoline engines.
Whether the future holds traditional filling stations or glowing electric hubs is uncertain at this moment. While the auto industry is in transition, it may be wise to join everyone else in sitting this one out until a clear winner is decided.