Electric or Hybrid Models Enter Mainstream in Auto Industry

Electric Vehicle Plugin

By James Noble

January 9, 2014

For the first time, this model year, all of the world’s major manufacturers are offering electric or hybrid models, suggesting that sustainability and clean technology are fast becoming major drivers of differentiation and competitiveness for auto manufacturers.

Many consumers are signing up to drive more fuel-efficient, sustainably produced vehicles. Automotive companies that embrace clean technology and sustainability will likely see big payoffs in a wide range of business initiatives. That’s the message from Toyota and Ford, two of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers.

Toyota first introduced the Prius – a full hybrid-electric car in 1997. Sales of the Prius model recently broke through the 500,000 mark and Toyota now boasts more hybrid models in its fleet than any other car manufacturer. It is expected that at least a quarter of all cars that Toyota sells in the EU this year will come from sales of hybrid models. The auto behemoth recently announced that a hydrogen-powered vehicle that emits only water vapor as exhaust would go on sale in the US in 2015, a year earlier than it promised just two months ago.

Ford Motor Company, the granddaddy of car companies, recently took the wraps off its C-MAX Solar Energy Concept at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Ford says that the solar concept vehicle will be powered by taking energy from sunlight and directing intense rays through a concentrator to panels on the vehicle’s roof. While the solar-powered vehicle may never be built and sold to the public, many features and technologies that we see in today’s vehicles were once shown for the first time in concept models years ago.

North America and Japan remain the world’s two biggest markets for alternative fuel cars. As Toyota and Ford have demonstrated to the rest of the industry, a thoughtful sustainability plan can lead to strong growth, better cost management and better shareholder relations.s."