Print 9 comment(s) - last by Phynaz.. on Apr 3 at 3:00 PM

Toyota Camry Hybrid

Honda Accord Hybrid

Ford Escape Hybrid

Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid

Lexus RX400h
Hybrid tech gets better and cheaper with each generation

Hybrid technology has been on the US auto market since 1999. That year saw the release of Honda's Insight two-seater. While a great proof of concept, it wasn't exactly a practical vehicle for many people. Toyota countered with the first generation Prius in 2000. That little four-door compact sedan is what put hybrid technology on the map and had every "green" celebrity clamoring to buy one.

Since those early years, hybrid technology has progressed nicely. We've seen more powerful electric motors and higher capacity batteries enter the fray. We now have "mild" hybrid options on GM's Silverado and Sierra pickup trucks. Ford has Escape and Mariner hybrid SUVs. Honda still has the Insight along with the Civic and Accord hybrids. Toyota is even pushing what it calls "performance" hybrids in the form of the Highlander Hybrid, RX400h and GS450h.

Honda was the first to introduce a rather normal-looking mid-sized hybrid sedan with its Accord. While the Accord Hybrid promises the fuel economy of a 4-cylinder with better performance than the normal 6-cylinder model, its base price is pushing into entry-level luxury space at $30,990. With a totally revamped 2007 Camry just now hitting the showrooms, Toyota is taking the opportunity to not only go after the Accord's mileage claims, but also undercut it significantly.

While Honda's Accord pairs a brawny V6 with an electric motor to achieve 255HP and 25/34 city/highway numbers, the new Camry Hybrid uses a 147HP 4-cylinder and a 40HP electric motor to achieve mileage ratings of 40/38 city highway. To make an even bolder statement, Toyota priced the Camry Hybrid at $25,900 -- undercutting its chief rival by over $5,000.

What the Camry gives up in power, it more than makes up for in fuel economy. And by pricing it far below Honda's offering, it is opening up the hybrid market to more and more potential buyers. People who maybe felt a little confined by smaller hybrids like the Prius and Civic now have a larger vehicle to set their sights on -- and it's not likely to burst their purse strings either.

As the price of hybrids come down and the mileage figures goes up, we can expect to see more and more people snapping them up. And before you know it, hybrid technology won't seem like just a passing fad.

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strange fuel economy
By TacticusV1 on 3/29/2006 1:54:34 PM , Rating: 2
what’s slightly weird is that its more efficient around a town then on a highway O.o

that and the fact that its highway is quite a lot lower then my little accidents economy though this may be explained by the weight then again its also lower then the 98 defender that my father owned (he drives slow, i don't ;) )

the defender around town was hitting 17 or 18 L of diesel for 100km 6l per 100km on the highway

mine does about 9l per 100km round town and was down in the 5lper 100km on the highway
and thats with a non friendly ding in it :)

RE: strange fuel economy
By Phynaz on 3/29/2006 3:45:21 PM , Rating: 2
Nothing weird about it. There's no regenerative braking and really no oportunity to use the electric motor when driving highway. Basically, when driving highway, all hybrids act as normal gasoline engine based cars.

RE: strange fuel economy
By TacticusV1 on 4/2/2006 8:17:24 PM , Rating: 2
thanks for the info but i wasn't aware that regenerative braking actualley did much
because it couldnt charge the battery fast enough?

RE: strange fuel economy
By Phynaz on 4/3/2006 3:00:46 PM , Rating: 2
Regenerative braking is what gives the high mileage for around town stop and go driving. I think it's about 70% (or more) of the power can be recovered in a stop and go cycle.

By kattanna on 3/30/2006 5:04:37 PM , Rating: 2
werent hybrids supposed to be electric vehicles that had small gas engines to run a generator only ?

RE: hey...
By masher2 on 3/31/2006 8:29:10 AM , Rating: 2
A hybrid is a vehicle with both a gas powered and a non gas powered (usually electric) engine. Nearly always, the gas engine not only charges batteries, but also acts as supplemental power when needed.

RE: hey...
By Googer on 4/3/2006 4:10:00 AM , Rating: 2
A hybrid is a vehicle with both a gas powered and a non gas powered (usually electric) engine. Nearly always, the gas engine not only charges batteries, but also acts as supplemental power when needed.

Or it will propel the car when the batteries are dead. When the batteries reach full charge and the moter has enough juice to move the car on it's own the combusion engine shuts off untill one of three things happen:
1) The driver mashes the pedal to the floor and requets more power, then both the electric motor and dino-powered motor spin the wheels for quick acceraration/merging

2)The dino-motor will kick in again when the batteries get low. The car will then be gas powered untill the batteries have reached an acceptable level of energy.

3) at certain sppeds the car might be gas powered or electric powered. Usualy low speeeds are electric, but some times higher revolutions are needed and the gas engine is most efficiant at mid range speed.

Electric Motors produce the most torque at low speeds while gasolene engines are producing the most torque at mid rpm's. The mating of electic and gas is ideal for that reason alone. They complement each other well.


RE: hey...
By Doormat on 3/28/2006 11:27:26 PM , Rating: 3
What is most interesting is that the Hybrid Camry's features fall somwhere between their SE ($20,950) and XLE ($24,425) models (but closer to the XLE). So really, if you were to configure an identical non-hybrid, the price premium is really only about $2500, possibly less. If you start to figure in tax credits, it could cost the same for a more efficient vehicle. The milage increase over the nonhybrid is 66% in city and 21% in highway. A swift kick in the pants to all the other automakers who are putting a $4000-5000 premium on the hybrid cars.

I was really expecting the hybrid camry to debut at $27,500 or so. I think it might be the car I buy next (when I need a new car of course, which probably wont be for a few years).

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