Hybrid cars first came to be through Japanese and European car makers. US auto manufacturers only begun their own versions of these fuel-efficient models in the 1990s, after the US government sought the help of American car makers Ford, GM (General Motors) and DaimlerChrysler in the creation of a new hybrid car model that its best fit with the American way of life and budget.
Ford was reportedly the first US car maker to bring in a model hybrid car into the industry, coming at a very competitive time since about six Japanese companies were unveiling their own hybrid versions during the time. Ford’s first hybrid car saw its first baby come out in September 2004, via the Escape SUV Hybrid model.
Ford Hybrid Cars
Ford had been expected to release its first hybrid car in 2003, which runs on both electric motor and fuel. As mentioned earlier, its first entry was the Ford Escape in 2004, which boasted of emitting less than a pound of smog substances for every 15,000 miles the vehicle runs. This is a great improvement considering that traditional light trucks emit around 105 pounds of smog pollutants for the same 15,000-mile distance. Even regular cars produce 67 pounds!
Ford had no trouble selling the Escape hybrid model because it was designed as an SUV, which most American consumers prefer. And because Ford’s hybrid cars work the same as regular SUVs, they carry a greater consumerist appeal, compared to the Japanese hybrid cars which look rather compact and tiny.
GM’s Hybrid Cars
General Motors’ first hybrid vehicles were the Silverado and the Sierra, both of which were released also in 2004. From then on, sales of both hybrid models sold almost effortlessly, with GM’s production volumes rising to 2,000 in 2005 and expanding a lot further this year to accommodate a much wider national clientele. GM expects to roll out 3,000 units each for Sierra and Silverado before the year ends.
A new hybrid GM car will also be introduced this year — the Saturn VUE, and the company is also preparing to launch the new hybrid version of the Chevrolet Malibu in 2006.
To date, it still cannot be said that American hybrid car manufacturers like Ford and GM have already come up to par with their European and Japanese counterparts. However, it is safe to say that they are trying and, so far, the results have been satisfactory. Ford and GM are definitely on their way to becoming US powerhouses in the hybrid car industry.
Of course, when we talk about price, it’s a different story. Since hybrid cars are not so prevalent as traditional ones just yet, they do come with quite a hefty price tag. It is only hoped that over the course of time and as interests shift toward a more environmentally-friendly world, hybrid cars will become more of a norm than a novelty. There is so much to gain with the birth of hybrid cars. It is good to know that America already has one foot in the door.